MANILA, Philippines—The warrant for the arrest of Globe Asiatique’s Delfin Lee still stands, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Monday despite the Court of Appeals’ order for law enforcers to stop the manhunt for the businessman who was accused in the P6.6 billion Globe Asiatique scam.
“We take the position that the warrant of arrest against Delfin Lee still stands since the resolution has not attained finality yet,” De Lima said.
She said they would file a motion for reconsideration with the Court of Appeals.
In a resolution dated Nov. 7 but was released to the public recently, it lifted the arrest warrant issued against Lee citing a grave abuse of discretion committed by the Pampanga Court.
In a 29-page decision, the appeals court, through Associate Justice Franchito Diamante, nullified and set aside the order of the Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42 that finds probable cause or basis to order Lee’s arrest.
“The warrant of arrest issued against petitioner Delfin S. Lee is hereby quashed, recalled and lifted. Afore-named public respondent judge [Ma. Amifaith Fider-Reyes] is directed to cease and desist from further proceeding with [the criminal case] insofar as petitioner Delfin Lee is concerned,” the appeals court said.
“Further, all government agencies tasked in the enforcement of the said warrant of arrest including but not limited to the Philippine National Police, the NBI and the Bureau of Immigration are immediately enjoined from implementing [the arrest warrant],” the court added.
The appeals court said the lower court merely relied on the findings of the Department of Justice panel, which recommended the prosecution of Lee and four others for syndicated estafa.
However, the appeals court said the arrest warrant issued by the lower court did not mention the elements to justify that the case against Lee and the four others should be syndicated estafa instead of simple estafa nor did it indicate the amount of damage incurred by the HDMF (Home Development Mutual Fund).
The DOJ panel, earlier recommended the filing of simple estafa case against Lee and three others but eventually upgraded to syndicated estafa, which is a non-bailable offense. The DOJ, however did not explain why the case was upgraded to syndicated estafa.
“It goes without saying that public respondent did not take it upon herself to determine, based on the evidence submitted the exact amount of damage incurred by respondent HDMF. Public respondent [Judge] merely made a sweeping statement that a huge amount of money was transferred from the coffers of the PAG-IBIG Fund to Globe Asiatique,” the appeals court added.
The DOJ also pointed that it recommended with the Office of the Ombudsman the prosecution of Lee’s other co-respondent who are officials of PAG-IBIG Fund.
“It baffles this court why the petitioner was charged in the separate case instead of including him in the referral of the whole case to the Office of the Ombudsman together with the other [PAGIBIG Fund] officers for causing undue injury to the government when the provisions of [the Anti-graft law] do not preclude the filing of charges against both public officers and private individuals,” the appeals court said.
The CA also previously junked the case against Lee’s co-accused Cristina Sagun, former head of GA’s documentation department, for lack of probable cause.
In clearing Sagun, the appellate court said Sagun can only be liable for simple negligence since she was never privy to the use of ghost borrowers and fake documents to obtain over P6.5 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG Fund in 2009.
The Supreme Court, however, stopped the implementation of the CA decision last April.
Then, last month, the Court of Appeals absolved another accused, Atty. Alex Alvarez from the case.