Judge blocks Delfin Lee’s prosecution
Unfazed by the prospect of being reprimanded by the Supreme Court, Pasig regional trial court judge Rolando Mislang on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction stopping the Department of Justice (DoJ) from pursuing a criminal case against Delfin Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.
Mislang’s order enjoined the DOJ from filing the information for syndicated estafa against Lee, his son Dexter and three others with the San Fernando, Pampanga RTC, said Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz.
Cadiz expressed shock at the decision of Mislang to block the criminal prosecution of Lee, pointing out that it came out even after the Supreme Court had directed the judge to explain the propriety of his previous issuance of a temporary restraining order in favor of the real estate magnate.
“I’m really amazed and shocked by the audacity of Judge Mislang in issuing such an order,” Cadiz said.
“It’s very wrong because it came at a time when the DoJ and the OSG have already issued a statement questioning the TRO. This particular judge did not exercise restraint at all,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Home Development Mutual Fund, also known as the Pag-Ibig Fund, filed an administrative complaint with the Supreme Court against Mislang for preventing the DoJ from indicting Lee.
Pag-Ibig lawyer Jose Roberto Po accused Mislang of gross ignorance of the law, grave misconduct and “knowingly rendering an unjust order” in issuing two temporary restraining orders (TRO) last month in favor of Lee.
“These TROs only delay the administration of justice in this case,” Po told reporters after filing the compliant with the high court administrator, Jose Midas Marquez.
The first TRO, released on Aug. 16, stopped state prosecutors from conducting a preliminary investigation on a second criminal complaint filed with the DOJ against Lee.
Mislang also granted Lee’s petition for a TRO on Aug. 26, on the same day that it was filed.
In Tuesday’s order, Mislang made permanent the Aug. 26 TRO that he had issued.
That order stopped the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Lee, his son Dexter and three others in connection with the allegedly irregular P6.65 billion loans that Pag-Ibig granted to alleged “ghost borrowers” who bought units in Globe Asiatique’s housing project in Pampanga.
According to Po, Mislang’s acts were in violation of Article 206 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because he caused “undue injury” to the government.
He said the judge also erred when he issued an injunctive order without requiring Lee to post a bond.
He also noted that the DoJ panel had thrown out Lee’s attempt to stop the preliminary investigation against him due to a “prejudicial question” regarding the civil case that the real estate magnate had previously filed against Pag-Ibig in Makati.
Lee raised the same issue of “prejudicial question” in his petition for the issuance of a TRO.
Po said Mislang granted Lee’s petition “based on mere unsubstantiated allegations of Mr. Lee” since the businessman’s lawyers did not present a certified copy of the assailed DoJ resolution.
Lee, who is facing four separate criminal investigation at the DoJ, has denied all the charges against him and his company.
Marquez, who is also the high court spokesperson, said he might render a decision on the complaint even without the separate administrative case that the DoJ was planning to file against Mislang.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has claimed Mislang “railroaded” the granting of the injunctive order since he decided on the petition without reading the DoJ resolution issued by senior deputy state prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
Marquez said he has ordered Mislang to submit an explanation on the circumstances of the issuance of the TROs based on his “personal assessment.”
“It would depend on the answer of the judge if it’s necessary for an investigation to be called…. But this complaint will be acted upon (immediately),” he said.
Asked if Mislang could be preventively suspended, he said: “Let’s see if that would be called for. It’s very difficult (to say) at this time.”
“While we have (had) preventively suspended some judges, I have yet to recall a judge who was suspended preventively for issuing a TRO,” Marquez said.
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