Bishop tells Aquino: Get Delfin Lee, too
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—If President Benigno Aquino III got the trust of suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to surrender to him on Aug. 28, might he also prod fugitive housing developer Delfin Lee to do the same?
With this question, Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David put back on the public discourse the alleged P7-billion housing scam by Lee’s Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. (GARHC) in the firm’s Xevera projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns.
The amount involved in the so-called housing scam is P3-billion short of the P10 billion that Napoles supposedly took through bogus nongovernment organizations and ghost beneficiaries for nonexistent projects paid through the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel of lawmakers.
“I wish they could also get Delfin Lee to surrender. How much money did he milk out of Pag-ibig [Fund]? P5 to P6 billion?” David said in text messages to the Inquirer on Tuesday. David helped the whistle-blowers in the housing scam.
Mr. Aquino has put up a P2-million reward for information leading to Lee’s arrest.
Lee, his son Dexter and their cohorts went into hiding in May last year after a judge in Pampanga ordered their arrest for a case of syndicated estafa filed by the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund). The savings and shelter agency derives its money from the contributions of employees in private companies and government agencies.
In a complaint filed in 2010, Pag-Ibig Fund officer-in-charge Emma Linda Faria said the respondents “conspired to carry out defraudation resulting in the misappropriation of money contributed by the general public.”
GARHC took out P6.65 billion in housing loans for nearly 9,000 units for supposed Pag-Ibig members, many of whom turned out to be bogus buyers bribed to sign public documents, the complaint said.
The other respondents were GARHC accounting and finance department chief Cristina Salagan; documentation department chief Christina Sagun; agents Lerma Vitug, Tintin Fonclara, Geraldine Fonclara, Revelyn Reyes, Rod Macaspac, Marvin Arevalo, Joan Borbon, Christian Cruz, Rodolfo Malabanan, Nannet Haguiling and Hon Tungol; and Pag-Ibig Fund lawyer Alex Alvarez.
David said the pork barrel scam reminded him of the housing scam.
“Napoles has partners in crime in the government who can be apprehended if she spills the beans. The investigation on the Pag-Ibig scam did not go so far as to identify Delfin Lee’s partners-in-crime inside Pag-Ibig or even in higher levels of government hierarchy,” he said.
Pag-Ibig Fund, David said, seemed to be “business as usual after allowing its funds to be plundered by several billions of pesos.”
“Ganun na lang ba iyon (Is it all going to be just like that)?” he asked.
Willie Rivera, Lee’s lawyer, said all cases filed against his client have “not moved” since late last year.
The Supreme Court, in October last year, denied Lee’s petition questioning his indictment for syndicated estafa. Lee, the high court said, had failed “to show any reversible error in the challenged decision as to warrant the exercise of the court’s discretionary appellate jurisdiction.”
Rivera said his client has not been in contact with him.
Lawyer Jojo Yap, director of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Luzon, said the search for Lee has not been called off.
“It is still ongoing and we keep on pursuing available leads on his whereabouts,” Yap said.