The Department of Justice on Sunday assailed the decision of a Pampanga court that allowed Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee to post bail despite the pendency of its appeal on the Supreme Court decision last July that downgraded his cases from syndicated to simple estafa.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon, head of the DoJ’s National Prosecution Service, protested the ruling of Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42 since the SC decision is not yet final and executory.
“It was questioned in the RTC that the issue of bail should not be considered for now as there is a pending MR before the SC. It was likewise raised that since there is no finality of judgment yet and the decision not being immediately executory, the court should defer action on the request for bail by the accused,” Fadullon said in an interview.
The Justice official confirmed reports that Lee, who was detained at the Pampanga provincial jail since March 6, 2014, was allowed by the RTC to post a bond of P40,000 last Thursday.
“Unfortunately, bail was granted. We are going to discuss the possible options with the private prosecutors and proceed from there,” he lamented.
However, it was learned that Lee was not able to immediately post bail because he waited for the complete documents from the SC.
Fadullon said the DoJ is standing firm in its petition before the high court seeking reversal of a Court of Appeals decision in 2013 that downgraded the cases against Lee from syndicated estafa to simple estafa.
“We believe that it is a syndicated estafa case which is non-bailable case, so he [Lee] should not be allowed to post bail,” he said.
In its motion for reconsideration filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, the DoJ asked the SC to overturn its ruling and reinstate the syndicated estafa cases against Lee and company.
The DoJ insisted that Lee and four other accused - GA vice president Dexter Lee, accounting head Cristina Salagan, documentation head Christina Sagun and Pag-IBIG Fund foreclosure manager Alex Alvarez—”clearly committed fraud.”
The DoJ questioned the finding of the SC that the second and third elements of syndicated estafa—act was committed by a syndicate and which resulted in misappropriation of money—in the cases against Lee.
Last July, the high court voted 7-5 with two abstentions to affirm the Court of Appeals ruling and dismiss the petition filed in 2014 by DoJ and HMDF.
The high tribunal also lifted the temporary restraining order it issued in March 2014 that prevented Lee’s release from the jail as ordered by the appellate court.
Lee was indicted for syndicated estafa charges for allegedly defrauding the government of P6.6 billion in housing loan proceeds for home buyers, whom investigators later found to be fictitious or had incomplete documents.
But he persistently sought reliefs from courts and eventually secured a favorable ruling from the special 15th division of the appellate court in November 2013, which lifted the arrest warrant issued against him by the
The CA had bought Lee’s argument the he could no longer be prosecuted for non-bailable charge of syndicated estafa following the dismissal of charges against two of his co-accused, Alvarez and Sagun.
With the dismissal of the complaint against Alvarez and Sagun, which left Lee, Dexter and Salagan as three remaining accused, the CA held that the crime of syndicated estafa may no longer apply against the remaining accused since the law requires at least five accused in a syndicated estafa case.
The DoJ and Pag-IBIG questioned the CA’s ruling before the SC and secured the TRO.
Lee was arrested on March 6, 2014 by elements of the Philippine National Police Task Force Tugis at the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Manila by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Pampanga RTC Branch 42 in connection with the Pag-IBIG housing loan scam where Lee allegedly used “ghost borrowers” for GA’s housing projects.