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Housing mogul threatens "Philippine Daily Inquirer" correspondent

(CMFR/IFEX) - A housing mogul allegedly threatened a Pampanga-based correspondent after she reported on his company's alleged illegal housing scheme. Pampanga is a province approximately 56 kilometers north of Manila.

"Philippine Daily Inquirer" senior correspondent for Central Luzon, Tonette Orejas, reported to several media organizations an alleged threat by Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. president Delfin Lee to slap her. Orejas, in a text message dated 7 September 2010, said "If Mr. Delfin Lee truly stated to Joel Mapiles of 'Central Luzon Daily' that he (would) slap me (should) his firm be not able to complete houses on Xevera, I think that is a clear form of threat on me." Orejas found out about the "challenge" from Mapiles, who asked her for her reaction.

Orejas' special report in the "Philippine Daily Inquirer" discussed allegations that Globe Asiatique "breached" its memorandum of agreement with the Philippine government's Home Development Mutual Fund (PAG-IBIG Fund) to provide houses to members of the Other Working Groups (OWG). The special report said that Globe Asiatique received "as much as P6.6 billion (approx. US$150.8 million) in loans for 8,973 houses" in its Xevera Subdivisions in Bacolor and Mabalacat, Pampanga.

According to Joel Mapiles, Lee told him during an interview about his reaction to the special report, that he is challenging Orejas to count the houses in the Xevera subdivisions. Lee allegedly said that he is willing to be slapped by Orejas if they see any unfinished house in Xevera. But he would slap Orejas if they find no unfinished houses. (CMFR tried to confirm the incident with Lee, but he declined an interview request.)

Orejas said in her text message that "My special report on (the) possible scams in the Xevera project seeks to protect PAG-IBIG Fund members (who) pay mandatory contributions to (the) agency. I'm not a liar as Lee accuses me. The 'special buyer' scheme, among others, is now up to Congress to investigate."

In Mapiles' report ("GA has no 'ghost borrowers' – Lee"), Lee said that Orejas' report was "malicious and based on pure lies". Lee denied allegations that Globe Asiatique used "ghost PAG-IBIG borrowers" to get loans from PAG-IBIG. He also said that Orejas' report has affected his business. "I will stop developing houses. We have built this low-cost housing development project for years. But just one story ruined it," the "Central Luzon Daily" reported, quoting Lee.

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