By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) downgraded yesterday from the non-bailable syndicated estafa to simple estafa the cases filed against detained real estate developer Delfin Lee.
Lee can now post bail for his release from detention.
In a press briefing, the SC’s public information office (PIO) said:
“The Court downgraded the offense that respondent Delfin Lee is charged with from syndicated estafa under Article 315, as amended, to simple estafa. As a consequence, the respondent Lee, who is the accused in the cases, is entitled to bail as a matter of right.”
Seven justices voted to downgrade the charges, while five dissented and two abstained. The PIO did not name the justices.
Lee, president of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp., has been detained at the Pampanga provincial jail for more than four years now since the cases against him were filed almost 10 years ago.
The SC had earlier issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the implementation of the 2013 CA decisions that cleared him of the syndicated estafa charges.
Lee was arrested in 2014 on the basis of the SC TRO which was issued on the petition filed by then Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary and now detained Sen. Leila de Lima.
With the ruling, the SC acted on the petition filed by Lee and those lodged by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Home Mutual Development Fund (HMDF) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). The cases were consolidated.
In his petition, Lee – president of Globe Asiatique — told the SC the petitions filed by the DOJ, HMDF, and OSG should “be dismissed for utter lack of merit and the assailed decisions and resolutions of the various divisions of the Court of Appeals (CA) be affirmed in toto.”
The syndicated estafa case against Lee was filed by the HMDF on allegation that it sustained a P6.6 billion damage through a breach of warranty committed by Globe Asiatique in the 2009 memorandum of agreement (MOA) and in the funding commitment agreements (FCAs) the realty firm entered into with HMDF.
Through his lawyers, Lee said “this alleged breach of warranty allegedly committed by Globe Asiatique was allegedly occasioned by its act of approving the PAG-IBIG housing loan applications of fictitious buyers/borrowers and by engaging in double-sale of the townhouses at the Xevera Bacolor and Mabalacat Township Projects, based on the interpretation of the contracts by DOJ that Globe Asiatique is the one approving the PAG-IBIG housing loan applications of the buyers/borrowers and its interpretation that Globe Asiatique is not allowed to replace the delinquent buyers/borrowers.”
But he said “all these baseless and misplaced allegations of petitioner HDMF were debunked by the RTC-Branch 58 of Makati City in Civil Case No. 10-1120 in the Resolution dated Jan. 30, 2012 containing the final summary judgment in that case.”