Marikina solon to face probers on Delfin Lee
MANILA, Philippines—Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo on Wednesday said he will face senators investigating the P6.6-billion Globe Asiatique Holdings (GA) housing scam allegedly perpetrated by jailed real estate developer Delfin Lee.
Quimbo, a former president of the Home Development Mutual Fund, or Pag-Ibig, said he had replied to Sen. JV Ejercito’s invitation for him to appear before the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, to explain the P2 billion that Lee’s Xevera township project in Mabalacat and Bacolor, Pampanga, obtained from Pag-Ibig during his watch.
In a phone interview, Quimbo, who headed Pag-Ibig from 2001 to 2009, admitted to having overseen six years ago the pilot program which gave GA access to Pag-Ibig funds but insisted that the idea came from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council which was headed by then Vice President Noli de Castro.
A clip on GA’s Youtube account showed Quimbo extolling the Xevera development as a “landmark activity” during the project’s unveiling.
“This speaks of the commitment of the developer to carry out an undertaking in an area where not a lot of people would have come here. I only hope that other developers would emulate and copy the same things Xevera and Globe Asiatique are doing,” Quimbo gushed in the 44-second video.
On Wednesday, Quimbo said he spoke those words at a time when GA was considered the “darling” of the real estate industry. He said the entire Pag-Ibig board was in “awe” of Xevera as Lee had placed P600 million of his own money to build first-class subdivision facilities, a church, market, schools and a municipal hall to attract homeowners to an area that had been laid waste by lahar flows.
Quimbo said he insisted on keeping GA’s Pag-IBIG program for Xevera on pilot test mode for two years, and limited only to 2,000 units worth P1.5 billion.
“When I left Pag-Ibig, they removed the curbs and changed it to a special program. It was only after the issue exploded in 2010 that I became aware that a MOA (memorandum of agreement) was signed in June 2009,” he said.
Quimbo did not deny that it was during his watch that Lee’s GA blossomed as one of the country’s biggest property developers, during a period where 7 of 10 mortgages made were through Pag-Ibig. But he noted that other new players such as DMCI Homes, Phinma Group and Extraordinary Group also did well during the period.
“There were 238 other developers that availed of the special window but it (GA) was the only one which lost its way,” he said.
Lee, who is being detained in a provincial jail in San Fernando, Pampanga, has denied the claim of Pag-Ibig president Darlene Berberabe, that GA enjoyed preferential treatment for its Xevera projects.
In a statement issued through his lawyer, Lee said: “The terms and conditions of our agreements with Pag-IBIG Fund were not significantly materially different from the Fund’s agreements with other developers. We are just like the others.”
He reiterated his plea for the Senate to issue him a subpoena to compel the police to bring him to the next committee hearing and allow him to personally explain his side on the allegations.—With Norman Bordadora
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