Government to appeal estafa case vs Globe Asiatique official-A A +A
Sunday, October 14, 2012
STATE lawyers are set to ask the Court of Appeals (CA) to reconsider its decision to dismiss the criminal charges against one of the accused in the P6-billion housing anomaly involving developer Globe Asiatique.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Office of the Solicitor General will immediately file a motion for reconsideration before the CA’s Special 10th Division on the decision that cleared Christina Sagun, head of GA’s documentation department, of charges of syndicated estafa.
“The DOJ will definitely take further issue on that ruling by filing motion for reconsideration through the OSG,” she said, adding she ordered Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to coordinate with the OSG on the matter.
Sagun was among those whom the DOJ found probable cause in connection with the alleged irregular housing project in Pampanga, along with Delfin Lee, president and chief executive officer of GA Holdings Corp.; his son Dexter, executive vice president, chief finance officer and treasurer; Cristina Salagan, head of the accounting department; and lawyer Alex Alvarez, an employee of Home Development Mutual Fund’s (formerly Pagibig Fund) legal department.
With the ruling of the CA, it put in jeopardy the syndicated estafa charge also lodged by DOJ prosecutors against the four other accused in the case, since for the case of syndicated estafa to prosper there has to be at least five respondents acting in conspiracy with one another.
De Lima said she will not allow the syndicated estafa charge against Lee and his co-respondents to be downgraded to simple estafa, which would enable them to post bail. All the respondents are currently at large upon the filing of the case before the Makati regional trial court.
De Lima said the ruling of the CA is not yet final, thus its effect will not immediately impact in the ongoing trial at the Makati court.
She also pointed out that Lee remains to be a fugitive from justice, despite the arrest warrant issued by the Makati RTC last year. His continuing evasion of his arrest, she said, would have legal implications in his bid to convince the court of his innocence, de Lima said.
“The charge against Delfin Lee, et al. remains to be syndicated estafa, hence, non-bailable. The CA decision has not attained finality yet,” she added.
The government has offered a reward of P2 million for the arrest of Lee.
In clearing Sagun, the CA said she is only liable for simple negligence, since based on evidence presented, her duties are ministerial in nature and do not require the employment of much discretion or discreet judgment.
The appellate court said that petitioner’s duties, as found by the DOJ, are confined to collating and checking if the documents submitted by borrowers/buyers, through GA’s marketing department, are complete and duly accomplished, and verifying from Pag-Ibig whether or not buyers have updated contributions and are qualified to apply for housing loans.
“Except for her negligence, the (DOJ) has not demonstrated how petitioner could have been privy to the creation of the so-called ‘special buyers’ such that she was conscious all along that she was committing a serious non-bailable crime as syndicated estafa,” the CA ruled.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the country’s housing czar, also ordered Pag-Ibig lawyers to craft possible arguments that would merit the reversal of the CA decision. (JCV/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)