Judge hit for alleged interference in Delfin Lee case

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CONTROVERSIAL businessman Delfin S. Lee has asked the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga, to set hearings on the alleged interference of the executive judge in his syndicated estafa case.

In a five-page motion dated Oct. 29, the Lee camp sought hearings to tackle San Fernando RTC Executive Judge Divina Luz P. Aquino-Simbulan’s letter to Branch 42 Judge Maria Amifaith S. Fider-Reyes “advising” the transfer of Mr. Lee to another detention facility.

The motion, filed by Mr. Lee’s counsel Salvador B. Viste, Jr., said Ms. Simbulan’s recommendation “preempted any action of the... Honorable Court, which is yet to act on the said ‘advise.’”

Ms. Simbulan in her letter advised Ms. Reyes to order Mr. Lee’s transfer to the Telabastagan district jail, from his current detention at Pampanga Provincial Jail.

Aside from deeming the letter an interference on the Branch 42’s jurisdiction, the motion said Ms. Simbulan based her recommendation on “pure surmises, conjectures and hearsay.”

The motion said the judge cited anonymous letters detailing the presence of special accommodations at the Pampanga Provincial Jail. She also noted a Zumba instructor’s complaint that Mr. Lee’s supposed bodyguard threatened him with violence.

There was “no direct allegation or claim of special treatment in favor of herein accused,” the motion said of the letter.

“Thus, it will be truly unfair for herein accused to be transferred to BJMP Telabastagan and be incarcerated together with one hundred, more or less, common and hardened criminals, especially so that herein accused is not even a convicted felon,” the motion said.

The motion concluded the “advise” for Mr. Lee’s transfer had no factual or legal bases, because he was also not deemed a threat to his co-inmates at the Pampanga Provincial Jail.

Aside from seeking hearings to tackle Ms. Simbulan’s letter, the motion also asked for an ocular inspection of Mr. Lee’s cell at the Pampanga Provincial Jail “to verify the insinuation of special treatment.”

A copy of the motion was also furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Lee was captured by police on March 2014, after two years in hiding. He is accused of defrauding the Pag-IBIG Fund of over P6.6 billion through supposed fake borrowers in the Xevera socialized housing project in Pampanga.

The project -- a partnership between the Pag-IBIG Fund and Globe Asiatique -- allowed workers in the informal sector to avail themselves of the government’s housing program, with the government extending the developer a “funding commitment line (FCL).” Pag-IBIG later discovered alleged anomalies in the Xevera accounts when around 300 buyers either surrendered or were no longer interested in continuing the housing loans. -- with Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato



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