EDITORIAL - Friend in need
(The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2014 - 12:00am

The law is malleable and everything is negotiable in this country. That’s the public perception reinforced by reports that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, an administration ally, allegedly tried to block the arrest last week of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings owner Delfin Lee.

Umali explained that his friend and province mate, Gilbert Repizo, had requested him to find out the basis for Lee’s arrest. Lee was cleared by the Court of Appeals in November last year of charges that the Globe Asiatique owner had swindled the Pag-IBIG Fund of P6.6 billion through a housing scam. Repizo is Lee’s lawyer.

The decision of CA Associate Justices Franchito Diamante, Agnes Reyes-Carpio and Melchor Sadang is on appeal before the Supreme Court. With the appeal pending, government prosecutors argue that the warrant for Lee’s arrest for syndicated estafa remained valid. This was what Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima told Umali during their phone conversation.

Umali had explained the phone call to President Aquino, who was satisfied with the explanation, Palace officials said yesterday. The official reaction to what is seen as a common practice in this country was not surprising, but such phone calls should be discouraged by anyone who is serious in pursuing the straight path or daang matuwid.

The public learned of the phone call only because housing officials complained that Umali had tried to block Lee’s arrest. Umali is no ordinary governor; he happens to be the treasurer of the President’s Liberal Party. Lee was one of the nation’s top five fugitives with a bounty of P2 million each.

While the PNP and government prosecutors have refused to budge on Lee’s arrest, Umali’s action can only reflect badly on the administration and its political party. More is expected of daang matuwid, and its stalwarts should know enough to be circumspect in helping out friends.

 

 

AGNES REYES-CARPIO AND MELCHOR SADANG ALAN PURISIMA ALFONSO UMALI ASSOCIATE JUSTICES FRANCHITO DIAMANTE COURT OF APPEALS DELFIN LEE GILBERT REPIZO GLOBE ASIATIQUE LEE UMALI
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