The Philippine National Police (PNP) tried to release real estate magnate Delfin Lee after he was arrested more than a week ago, a top official of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) said.
HUDCC Deputy Secretary General and Assistant Secretary Daniel Subido said it is unthinkable for the PNP to even consider freeing Lee based merely on his lawyer’s claim that the warrant of arrest was invalid.
“Clearly there must have been influential people that worked on the actual delisting of Mr. Lee from the Warrant of Arrest Information System and pressured the PNP to cause Mr. Lee’s release despite the existence of a valid Warrant of Arrest,” Subido said in his report to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Binay, chairman of the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) Board of Trustees, ordered the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Lee in December 2010.
Subido said Binay asked him to go to Camp Crame immediately after Lee’s arrest to ensure proper procedures were followed in arresting and detaining the Globe Asiatique president.
Binay issued the directive to Subido after receiving a report that “influential people” were pressuring PNP officials to release Lee.
“When I arrived (at) Camp Crame, I was surprised that PNP officers were discussing the validity of Mr. Lee’s arrest based on the mere representations made and documents presented by his lawyer,” Subido said in his report.
According to the PNP officers, the lawyer presented documents purporting that the warrant has been quashed, recalled and lifted, and that the PNP was instructed not to carry out the arrest, he added.
Subido said he explained to the police officials that the warrant was valid and existing because only the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga, which issued the warrant, could quash, recall, or lift it.
He said Sr. Supt. Conrad Capa, the head of Task Force Tugis, assured him that the task force checked with the Pampanga court and found that the warrant was still valid despite a November 7, 2013 ruling of the Court of Appeals lifting it.
The PNP had no authority to decide on the validity of the warrant, Subido said, adding: “Such a determination is the sole jurisdiction and discretion of the courts.”
“The circumstances that transpired immediately after the arrest of Mr. Lee coupled by the certification, memo and letters showing the delisting of Mr. Lee from the database of outstanding arrest warrants and ordering to enjoin the implementation of the arrest warrant against him previously issued by the PNP only show that influential people indeed pressured the PNP to favor Mr. Lee,” he said.
Subido recommended that Pag-IBIG formally commend Capa and Task Force Tugis for their “integrity and fortitude in apprehending and detaining Mr. Lee despite the pressure received from influential people.”
The Supreme Court has upheld the warrant, nullifying the Court of Appeals’ earlier order.
The High Court’s order also stopped the appellate court from implementing its resolution clearing Lee of the charges of syndicated estafa.
Sen. Nancy Binay, the Vice President’s daughter, is seeking a Senate investigation into the alleged delisting of Lee from the PNP’s “Most Wanted Persons List.”
Lee was charged for allegedly using fake documents and non-existent borrowers, who supposedly bought homes in Globe Asiatique’s housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga, to secure some P6.6 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO