POSTSCRIPT / June 22, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Pag-Ibig’s rejoinder to Delfin Lee claims

THIS is the rejoinder (tightened to fit space) of the Pag-IBIG Fund to the Postscript of June 17 titled “Dark politics behind jailing of Delfin Lee?:

“Delfin Lee’s claim that politics is the reason behind the filing of cases against him and Globe Asiatique, that he is being subjected to political persecution because of his affiliation with Secretary Mar Roxas — this claim is being made only recently, when the government, of which Secretary Roxas is a part, brought him to justice and arrested him after years of being a fugitive. In all the years that Mr. Lee was in hiding despite a standing warrant for his arrest, not once did he impute malice on any party for the filing of cases against him and GA. In all the years that Mr. Lee enjoyed his freedom in defiance of a judicial process for his capture, not once did he point to Vice President Jejomar Binay as acting in pursuit of the GA cases due to personal vindictive reasons. It is only now that he has been put behind bars, that he has suffered losses in no less than the Supreme Court, that Mr. Lee raises all kinds of phantom issues to cast doubt as to the merit of the cases against him. Are these very belated claims of political harassment part of Mr. Lee’s orchestrated, if desperate, efforts to turn public opinion in his favor, now that he is in jail?

“The case against GA is about the quest for justice. As President and Chief Executive Officer of Pag-IBIG Fund, I wish to set straight some misleading claims in your article, so the public may know the facts and make the correct judgment on what is now commonly called the GA Scam.

“First, the GA Scam was initially investigated in the middle of 2010, and progressed naturally. This was long before any talk of politics in 2016.

“Mr. Lee fashions himself as a ‘political detainee’ and a victim of a political vendetta. You even quoted his counsel saying that Mr. Lee’s problems ‘began, maybe coincidentally, when the Vice President took over the HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council)’.

“But Mr. Lee (deliberately?) got the timeline wrong, an error that your column carried. Pag-IBIG’s investigation into the fraudulent nature of GA’s accounts started even before Jejomar Binay was declared the Vice President.

“During a routine validation of the eligibility of GA’s buyers in May 2010, Pag-IBIG Fund first discovered that hundreds of borrowers were no longer willing to pursue their loans with our agency. We immediately sent notice to Mr. Lee to validate said borrowers and his reply was a confession. In a letter, he admitted that his company was internally monitoring about 1,000 accounts which they suspected to be questionable buyers and that these accounts only remained current with Pag-IBIG Fund because GA was paying for them.

“Around this time, Mayor Binay has just been proclaimed the winner of the May 2010 elections for the Vice Presidency but he wasn’t sworn into office until a month after, on June 9.

“Meanwhile, upon uncovering hundreds more of these fictitious accounts as our validation continued, Pag-IBIG revoked GA’s authority to process borrowers and suspended loan releases to the real estate company on June 22, 2010. It bears emphasizing that this occurred a month before Vice President Binay took over the helm of HUDCC in July 20, 2010. In other words, the Vice President assumed office at a time when Pag-IBIG already unearthed numerous anomalies in the GA accounts and was already actively investigating the same.

“So, the claim that Mr. Lee and GA ceased to be a good client and partner of Pag-IBIG only after Vice President Binay bagged the HUDCC post and chairmanship of Pag-IBIG Fund is plainly false.

“Second, while Mr. Lee denies all liability, it is a fact that his company committed fraud to induce Pag-IBIG Fund into releasing multi-billion home loans. The separate investigations made by Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation came to that same conclusion. The DOJ, in fact, found evidence that GA paid P5,000 to people who had no intention of buying houses in Xevera and used their names in loan applications sent to Pag-IBIG Fund. It was GA that paid for the required contributions to make these ‘special buyers’ (as former GA agents referred to them) eligible to avail of the loan. Subsequently, it was also GA that paid for their monthly amortizations. GA vetted for these borrowers, which Pag-IBIG, on post-take out validation, discovered to be bogus.

“Given the foregoing, I believe it would have been legally, financially, and even morally indefensible and unjust for Pag-IBIG Fund to continue its transactions with GA after we discovered Mr. Lee’s felony. That Vice President Binay firmly steered the Fund towards prosecuting GA and Mr. Lee in the face of overwhelming evidence of their crimes against Pag-IBIG and its members was, simply put, the ONLY moral and responsible action to take. For Vice President Binay to not lift a finger to protect the Fund and its members would have been a gross abdication of duty and a manifest injustice that would have been against everything Vice President Binay stands for.

“Third, and last, you cited a resolution promulgated by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 58 purportedly dated Jan. 20, 2012 (should be Jan. 30) which allegedly quashed the syndicated estafa charges filed against Mr. Lee.

“This is again false. The Makati RTC resolution was for a CIVIL case that Mr. Lee filed against Pag-IBIG Fund and so could not have quashed the syndicated estafa suit – a criminal case – charged against Mr. Lee and his co-conspirators.

“That RTC resolution, which is now more than 28 months old, was issued summarily and without the benefit of trial even though Pag-IBIG Fund raised genuine triable facts in the case for specific performance. In fact, the highest court of the land issued an order in December 2013 restraining the implementation, among others, of this questionable RTC Resolution.

“This means simply that the RTC resolution you cite and rely on has in fact been stopped by no less than the Supreme Court, and is currently unenforceable, a crucial detail that was omitted in your column.”

(Above rejoinder was signed by Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, president and CEO of Pag-IBIG Fund.)

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 22, 2014)

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