President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants to know why Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. interceded for arrested real estate magnate Delfin Lee.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Sunday the President sent a text message to Umali asking for his explanation.
“According to Governor Boy Umali, he called up PNP [Philippine National Police] Director General Alan Purisima upon the request of Attorney Gilbert Repizo who is a provincemate and acquaintance of Governor Boy Umali,” Coloma said.
Lee was among the country’s top fugitives and carried a P2 million bounty. He headed the real estate property developer Globe Asiatique that used fake documents and ghost borrowers to acquire P7 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG.
Police arrested Lee last week at a hotel in Manila.
Umali reportedly called up Purisima to inquire about the basis for the arrest, since the warrant issued by a local court had been voided by a Court of Appeals ruling that dropped the syndicated estafa case against the developer.
“When he was asked by Governor Umali, the response of General Purisima was that the warrant of arrest against Lee was still valid and that’s where their conversation ended,” Coloma told reporters.
Coloma did not say if the President was satisfied with Umali’s explanation, stressing that his knowledge about the communication between Aquino and Umali was “all he knew.”
The arrest of Lee was questioned because the appellate court has already cleared him of the crime of syndicated estafa.
In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Franchito Diamante and concurred in by Associate Justices Agnes Reyes-Carpio and Melchor Sadang, the Court of Appeals’ former Special 15th Division noted the clarificatory motion for judgment but denied Lee’s motion for a partial reconsideration.
In denying the motion, the court also said the issue involving the hold departure order “was never raised in the petition that was brought before [the court.]”
It added that as a judicial courtesy, it will no longer touch the case because it has reached the Supreme Court.
The appellate court ruled that Lee had asked for the quashing of the warrant of arrest issued by Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the San Fernando, Pampanga RTC-Branch 42.
In clearing Lee, the Court of Appeals said “for estafa to have been committed by a syndicate, the act must be committed by five or more persons.”
JOEL M. SY EGCO