THE Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement is determined to summon businessman Delfin Lee, the alleged mastermind of the P7-billion Globe Asiatique (GA) housing scam, to face the panel even after a court rejected its earlier invitation.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chairperson of the cited committee, said that the chamber would again issue a letter addressed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pampanga, asking it to allow Lee to attend the panel’s next hearing.
Ejercito expressed optimism that the court would reconsider its earlier position since it will be the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that will issue the letter-request for Lee’s appearance. This means that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will be joining the GA probe.
According to Ejercito, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd already issued a memorandum putting him in charge of the committee hearings regarding the controversy.
“Delfin Lee is already under the jurisdiction of the court. We have to respect that jurisdiction. The Blue Ribbon Committee will try to facilitate Delfin Lee’s appearance,” Ejercito said.
Lee was originally scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement inquiry on May 15. However, the court disallowed Lee from attending the proceedings.
Instead of issuing a subpoena, Ejercito’s committee sent a letter-request addressed to Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga RTC requesting the presence of Lee in the scheduled hearing.
Despite the Committee’s efforts, however, the court denied the said request, prompting Ejercito to temporarily suspend the panel’s proceedings.
Lee is currently facing charges for syndicated estafa for allegedly masterminding the multibillion-peso housing scam using “ghost” Pag-IBIG (Home Development Mutual Fund) borrowers.
Lawyer Darlene Marie Berberabe, president and chief executive officer of Pag-IBIG, in the last hearing of the committee expressed belief that there might have been a “special arrangement” between GA and former Pag-IBIG officials.
She cited a 2009 arrangement wherein GA was given a five-year buy-back guarantee following the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Pag-ibig and Lee’s company.
She said GA was given a five-year buy-back guarantee when other developers who were similarly situated with the corporation were only given two years.
According to Ejercito, since the Blue Ribbon committee has a scheduled Malampaya fund scam hearing this week, he decided to set the resumption of the GA scam probe on the first week of June.
The hearing will also tackle the controversial delisting of Lee from the most wanted list of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
PNP chief Alan Purisima allegedly issued a letter that paved the way for the removal of Lee’s name from the cited list. The delisting is now being used by the Lee’s lawyers to challenge the validity of his arrest.Ejercito said they also invited Purisima and other officials of the PNP in order to shed light on the delisting issue.