The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Department of Justice (DoJ) to continue investigating the complaints filed against property developer Delfin Lee, rejecting a lower court order halting the probe.
The Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking the Pasig City court and the Court of Appeals (CA) decisions to stop the DoJ investigation.
Lee, president and founder of Globe Asiatique, and several others are accused of acquiring more than P6 billion in loans from the Pag-IBIG Fund using ghost borrowers.
Lee obtained in April last year a TRO from Pasig Judge Rolando Mislang preventing the DoJ from investigating the complaints.
The Justice department brought the case before the CA, which also ruled in favor of Lee due to a technicality.
The appellate court said the DoJ’s petition was filed out of time.
But the Supreme Court set aside the rulings of the Pasig court and the CA.
The High Court agreed with the DoJ’s claim that Mislang’s order is an “invasion of the right of petitioner DoJ to continue with its power and function to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders. Thus, Mislang’s order “hampers the administration of justice, and in order not to render moot and academic this petition and to prevent irreparable injury upon the petitioner [DoJ] who may be prevented from performing its legally mandated duty to protect public interest in case an injunction writ will not be issued.”
The Supreme Court’s second division, headed by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, issued the resolution.
The tribunal also restrained the Court of Appeals from implementing its resolutions upholding the TRO issued by the Pasig court.
It directed Lee to reply to the resolution within 10 days.
Lee was arrested in Manila on Thursday. On Monday, he questioned his arrest before the CA and insisted that he be released.
Lee petitioned for a habeas corpus, asking the court to order law enforcers to bring him before the CA.
The case was raffled off to the CA’s Special First Division. Justice Manuel Barrios will be the ponente (presenter) of the case and will be joined by Associate Justices Normandie Pizarro and Stephen Cruz.
Lee also sought the deferment of his arraignment for the crime of syndicated estafa.
In his petition, Lee asked the CA to stop Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42 from hearing the syndicated estafa case since the appellate court has already issued a ruling clearing him of the charges.
Lee said he should be immediately released from “illegal detention.”
He argued that there is no temporary restraining order or injunction issued by the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the injunction dated November 7, 2013 issued by the Court of Appeals against Judge Reyes and the PNP.
Lee added there is also no TRO or injunction from the Supreme Court to stop the recall, quashing and lifting of the warrant against him.
In its recent ruling, the CA’s Special 15th Division cleared Lee but ruled that the Hold Departure Order (HDO) against him stays.
Lee and his son Dexter are accused of obtaining anomalous loans for the Xevera housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday said the court will decide whether Lee should be placed under hospital arrest.
Binay, the government’s housing czar, admitted that it is possible that Lee will want to be detained in a hospital like other detained high-profile personalities.
The Vice President wants Lee, who is detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office in San Fernando City in Pampanga, transferred to a regular jail cell.
“Of course he [Lee] wants to defend himself. He will consider all possible remedies and strategies including hiring good lawyers, among others,” Binay said.
“The pieces of evidence against Lee are voluminous, so we have a strong case against him,” he added.
Binay talked with members of the Xevera Homeowners Association in Mabalacat, Pampanga, to discuss how to strengthen the case against Lee.