SC studying transfer of Delfin Lee due to alleged special treatment in Pampanga jail

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The Supreme Court's Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) will look into an appeal from property developer Delfin Lee not to be taken out of the Pampanga Provincial Jail and transferred to a city jail.

In a text message to reporters, Court Administrator Midas Marquez confirmed that he has received a copy of the motion that Lee filed with Judge Amifaith Reyes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 41 in Pampanga, which is hearing the syndicated estafa case against him.

In his motion, Lee opposed a letter from San Fernando RTC Executive Judge Divina Luz Simbulan asking Judge Reyes "to consider" transfering him to the city jail in Telabastagan, SanFernando due to alleged special treatment he is getting at the provincial jail.

“I am looking into it (Lee’s plea) to determine what action may be done on the issue, or if there’s need for any,” Marquez said, adding that apart from Lee's motion, he also already has a copy of Simbulan's letter to Reyes.

The SC official said he would also verify reports that an anonymous complaint has been filed against Judge Simbulan.

“I haven’t seen the complaint yet,” Marquez added.

Lee, president of Globe Asiatique linked to the alleged P6.6-billion housing controversy, last week run to the SC's OCA to contest Simbulan's transfer order.

Lee, through his lawyer Salvador Viste Jr., branded as mere "conjectures and hearsay" the allegations that he was being given special treatment at the facility where he is currently detained.

Lee argued that Simbulan’s information was based on anonymous letters, which meant that “these information whatever they may be, from anonymous senders are not verifiable [and] not reliable.”

“In short, there is no direct allegation or claim of special treatment in favor of herein accused at the Pampanga Provincial Jail. All that has been said in the subject letter are those enumerated surmises, conjectures and hearsay,” he added.

After suggesting that Lee be transferred to the city jail in Telabastagan, the executive judge later, in a supplemental letter to fellow Judge Reyes, suggested Lee to be transfered instead to a jail facility in Arayat, which is one hour away from San Fernando City.

In her supplemental letter to Judge Reyes last Monday, Judge Simbulan said the Arayat jail would be more conducive for Lee as it is not as overcrowded as the Telabastagan facility.

Lee insisted that allowing his transfer would violate his constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, considering that the advise to transfer him to BJMP Telabastagan has no legal and factual basis.

He reiterated that his transfer to a smaller jail would put his life in danger.

Lee said that the RTC should first conduct a verification of the allegations of special treatment before deciding on the matter.

In his motion, Lee also asked Judge Reyes to compel Judge Simbulan to testify and produce evidence to support her allegations of VIP treatment. He said Judge Simbulan should also be asked to execute a written personal undertaking to secure his safety and to take full responsibility for any consequence in case his transfer pushes through.

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