House bloc wants Delfin Lee raked over live coals

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THE independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Thursday called for a congressional investigation into the reported intervention of some influential personalities in the arrest of real estate magnate and Globe Asiatique President Delfin Lee.

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A separate investigation, on the other hand, is being sought in the Senate to look into the alleged delisting of Lee, who is facing syndicated estafa charges for a P6.6-billion housing controversy, from the “Most Wanted Persons List.”

Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, in filing House Resolution 969, emphasized the need to look into the matter “considering that the case of Lee is one of the high profile cases of the government and to erase doubts of possible whitewash.”

The lawmaker in his resolution cited reports about the supposed attempt of an “influential person” to intervene in Lee’s arrest which even resulted in a shouting match with the police authority inside the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.

“Immediately after that, Liberal Party national treasurer and Mindoro Oriental Governor Alfonso Umali admitted in media that he was one who made a phone call to PNP Chief Alan Purisima in connection with the arrest of Mr. Lee,” the resolution added.

Romualdez said that the inquiry was intended to review and propose possible amendments to the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Administrative Code of the Philippines and Presidential Decree 1829.

Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay filed Senate Resolution 567 which directs the appropriate Senate committees to conduct an inquiry into the alleged removal of Lee’s name from the “Most Wanted” list as well as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) issuance of a certification of the Globe Asiatique president’s removal from the list of the Warrant of Arrest database.

“While the arrest of Delfin Lee after two years of evading the authorities was a welcome respite to the victims of the P6.6-billion housing controversy, what is worrisome is that the camp of the accused is now questioning the validity of the arrest,” Binay said.

Despite the clarification issued by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas that the arrest warrant against Lee was valid as well as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s statement that the CIDG certification was an “honest mistake,” Binay believes that an investigation into the claims of the camp of the accused should be conducted.

In a related development Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada, also wants Lee to be invited by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, to shed light on why government controlled corporation Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC) went bankrupt.

De la Cruz, who authored a measure seeking a probe on HGC’s transaction which virtually left HGC cash-strapped with deficit running to almost P13.296 billion as of 2012, said Lee, could have actually contributed to HGC’s bankruptcy.

In 2008, de la Cruz noted, at a time when HGC was already suffering from financial woes, Lee’s Globe Asiatique entered into a Funding Commitment Agreement with Pag-IBIG for a housing project, for which the firm allegedly received at least P6.6 billion in housing loan proceeds for home buyers.

But an investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) allegedly showed Lee made false representations and submitted fake documents to secure the loans as the findings revealed that from the 9,951 alleged Pag-IBIG borrowers in the Globe Asiatique deals, 1,000 could not be located, 400 denied applying for housing loans, and 200 had incomplete documents for the transaction.

The probe also bared that some of the buyers were allegedly fake members of Pag-IBIG, and others were ineligible for membership. Another group of buyers used spurious loan accounts.

The party-list solon stressed that HGC performs a vital role in the implementation of the country’s housing program by providing risk coverage or guarantees and fiscal incentives to banks and financial institutions to grant housing development loans and home financing to qualified Filipinos.

“So, without the HGC guarantee, there would be no Pag-IBIG loan and there would be no Delfin Lee,” said de la Cruz.

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