Again, judge stops Lee from going to Senate
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A judge here has again stopped detained real estate developer Delfin Lee from attending a Senate hearing today, three days after he accused Vice President Jejomar Binay of being behind an attempt to extort P200 million from him.
The prohibition on Lee to testify in the Senate inquiry is contained in an April 10 order of Regional Trial Court Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes, who is hearing the syndicated estafa case for which the businessman is detained.
This case and five other cases accused Lee of defrauding the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) of P7 billion in loan takeouts through ghost buyers or double sale of units in Xevera subdivisions in Bacolor and Mabalacat City in Pampanga province since 2008.
The same order stopped Lee from attending the April 13 hearing of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, which has been investigating alleged anomalies in projects of the Makati City government during Binay’s term as mayor.
Joey Salgado, a spokesperson of Binay, has called Lee’s allegations “barefaced lies” and “no different from the lies made by the senators and their demolition job accomplices.”
Reyes issued the order in response to a motion by prosecutors from the Department of Justice to defer action on the subpoena of the Senate blue ribbon committee for Lee to appear in the April 13 and 16 hearings.
Reyes said she stopped Lee to avoid preempting her resolution in a motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecutors against her March 20 order. Lee’s lawyer did not appear in court to oppose the motion.
“What this court seeks to achieve in issuing this order is to give the judicial system the protection and respect that it deserves, to preserve the dignity of the courts and to spare them from the danger of losing their usefulness in our democracy, which could happen once the public would lose its confidence in the judicial processes,” Reyes said.
This was the third time since May 2014 that Lee was stopped by the court from attending Senate hearings.
On Monday, Lee’s lawyers submitted an affidavit on the alleged extortion by Binay’s camp in exchange for not being sued in a supposed insurance scam at the Pag-Ibig Fund and pressures on him to make false claims against former Vice President Noli de Castro, who was Binay’s predecessor at the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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