Why the delay
HIDDEN AGENDA (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2016 - 9:00am

Justice delayed is justice denied.

This legal maxim basically summarizes the dilemma of businessman Delfin Lee who is asking the Supreme Court to immediately resolve the cases that have been filed against him.

Lee has been detained at the Pampanga provincial jail for almost two years now by virtue of an injunction issued by the SC on one of the petitions challenging his acquittal by the CA.

Several cases have been filed with the High Court questioning the decisions of the Makati Regional Trial Court and the three divisions of the Court of Appeals quashing the syndicated estafa information filed against Lee and cancelling the arrest warrant issued by the Pampanga RTC.

The syndicated estafa case against Lee was filed by the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), claiming it sustained a P6.6 billion damage through fraud perpetrated by Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. (GA).

In its summary judgment that has been affirmed by the CA and has become final and executor, the Makati RTC ruled that GA did not commit any breach of warranty as alleged by HDMF and it is the latter in fact which is guilty of breach of contract.

The Department of Justice and HDMF went to the SC challenging a CA decision absolving Lee from the syndicated estafa charges.

If the criminal information has been quashed, meaning there is no criminal case against him, the least the SC can do is speed up the resolution of the case. An innocent man should not suffer a single day in jail.

Lee has asked the SC not only to dismiss the petitions filed by the DOJ and Pag-IBIG, but also to order the provincial warden of the Pampanga Provincial Jail to cause his immediate release from detention.

The government’s P6.6-billion syndicated estafa case against property developer Lee and other executives of GA should now be dismissed as it no longer has any leg to stand on.

Aside from fact that the CA and Makati RTC have already cleared Lee of the charges against him, the HDMF and Office of the Solicitor General have also conceded that there was no such P6.6-billion loss or damage incurred by the government as earlier alleged against Lee.

In its charges against Lee, Pag-IBIG Fund had earlier alleged that it suffered a damage in the amount of P6.6 billion in loans taken by GA, but no less than HDMF president and CEO Darlene Berberabe admitted during a Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing that Lee, representing GA, did not obtain a P6.6 billion loan from petitioner Pag-IBIG Fund. This is probably the reason why it has not filed any case against GA to collect the P6.6 billion. In fact, HDMF’s counterclaim was only for P12 million.

Lee’s lawyer Rony Garay claims that on the contrary, it is GA, as further admitted by Berberabe, that has receivables of P600 million from HDMF, more than sufficient to pay off or cover the alleged P18 million claim of the 28 other complainants.

Lee and his lawyers have also said that out of the 10,000 buyers of the Bacolor and Mabalacat township projects in Pampanga, only 27 individuals filed cases against GA, most of who are delinquent buyers and who surprisingly still live in their respective housing units despite not having paid a single centavo for the last five years.

Last month, affected homeowners of the GA subdivisions in Pampanga have also written SC Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno asking for an immediate resolution of the cases before the SC, as they have been innocently caught in the crossfire.

Not innocent after all

Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. continues to brush aside the repeated tirades by President Aquino that he must first apologize to the nation, saying he is not guilty of anything.

Those who have chosen him in the public opinion polls may be clueless or may just have forgotten about what the Marcoses have done to this country during his late father’s two-decade dictatorial rule.

Bongbong claims that the Philippines was actually on its way to becoming Asia’s next Singapore had the EDSA uprising not intervened in 1986.

According to him, one shouldn’t visit the sins of the father upon his children.

But if we were to believe former National Security adviser Jose Almonte, Bongbong allegedly played a pivotal role in stashing abroad the estimated $10 to $20 billion that his family had plundered from the country following their hasty retreat from Manila to Honolulu.

In his recently published memoir entitled “Endless Journey,” Almonte devoted three whole chapters to “Operation Big Bird,” a sting operation that he had hatched with Filipino investment banker Michael “Mike” de Guzman with the blessings of then-President Cory Aquino along with her close relatives and advisers plus RAM leaders that was designed to dupe the Marcoses into giving up their dollar deposits in Swiss banks.

According to Almonte, De Guzman in the ‘80s headed Credit Manila, an investment firm that was quite successful in bringing back a part of the dollar deposits that left the country during the capital flight that marked the twilight of the Marcos dictatorship, by issuing dollar-denominated treasury bills that were purchased by persons whose identities were kept secret.

De Guzman subsequently put up the Export-Finanzierungsbank in Vienna, which he would later on offer to the Marcoses under “Operation Big Bird” as a secret repository for their Swiss bank accounts.

The plan was to convince the Marcoses that the transfer of their deposits from Swiss banks to De Guzman’s Vienna bank would prevent Marcos from going the way of the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose Swiss bank deposits were frozen after he was toppled by the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Almonte says that President Cory was aware of such plan and had even signed a letter of authority informing the Swiss lawyers that De Guzman, Almonte, and then-Solicitor General Sedfrey Ordoñez were authorized to negotiate for whatever Marcos stash they could recover on behalf of the new Philippine government.

Almonte revealed that far from being an innocent bystander, Bongbong was deeply involved in his family’s efforts to hide their loot in Switzerland and transfer such accounts elsewhere while they were still living in exile in Honolulu.

Citing De Guzman, it was Bongbong who was communicating clandestinely with and giving instructions to Credit Suisse vice president Ernst Scheller, who actually handled the Marcoses’ secret accounts in Switzerland.

In a follow-up meeting at De Guzman’s hotel room, Bongbong gave the banker two letters of authority, one signed by Marcos and the other by Imelda, instructing Credit Suisse in Switzerland to place all their cash and securities there “at the disposal” of De Guzman.

According to Almonte, De Guzman first estimated that that the initial accounts would probably contain $10 to $20 million, only to be surprised to find out that it was actually $213 million combined.

In Almonte’s book, De Guzman revealed that from the time he put up the bank in Vienna, it was part of their strategy “to slowly convince the Marcoses to transfer their funds to us. I thus hosted Bongbong in Austria in 1985 and talked to him about my bank. Much later, I was given the moniker ‘the tour guide of Bongbong in Vienna’ by the Manila press.”

For comments, e-mail at philstarhiddenagenda@yahoo.com.

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