NBI on Vhong Navarro: CCTV footage belies rape charges
MANILA, Philippines – There is glaring evidence disproving rape charges against comedy actor-host Vhong Navarro (real name: Ferdinand Hipolito Navarro), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Wednesday, January 29.
CCTV footages obtained by the bureau supports Navarro's version of events, where 6 men allegedly beat him up inside the condominium unit of model stylist Deniece Cornejo, said the NBI.
Cornejo filed a complaint before the Taguig City Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday, implicating Navarro of raping her and challenging Navarro's claim that he was the victim of mauling and extortion by Cornejo's camp.
NBI-Metro Manila Assistant Regional Director Vicente De Guzman III explained that it is up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assess how the evidence at hand can bolster Navarro's case.
"You be the judge of the CCTV footage. How could there be a rape based on the incidents shown in the footage? We submitted the finding with the prosecutor for them to assess," De Guzman said in an interview.
The unit in Forbeswood Heights Condominium in Taguig City is owned by Soledad Ramos and was leased to Cornejo, who had been staying there for more than a week when the alleged mauling took place.
The NBI filed on Tuesday, January 28, a series of charges against Cornejo and 7 others who were allegedly involved in the beating of Navarro. (READ: NBI files complaint vs Deneice Cornejo, Cedric Lee)
Cornejo, Cedric Lee, Bernice "Marie" Lee, Ferdinand Guerrero, alias Mike, and two others unidentified in NBI papers were charged with serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, and threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation.
Cornejo fetched Cedric Lee
The NBI said the CCTV recording showed that Cornejo left her unit upon Navarro's arrival, and came back several minutes after with Cedric Lee – belying Lee's claim that they caught Navarro, undressed, on top of Cornejo in her bedroom.
"Pagpasok ni Navarro, si Cornejo went out, leaving Navarro sa unit niya. Several minutes...thereafter, nung bumalik siya, they were together na, Cedric and Deniece," De Guzman said.
(When Navarro had entered, Cornejo went out, leaving Navarro in her unit. Several minutes...thereafter, she returned, this time with Cedric Lee.)
This supports Navarro's version of the story that Cornejo left the condominium unit upon his arrival. Thereafter, two men came out of Cornejo's room and one of them pointed a gun at him.
He claimed he was bound, blindfolded, and beaten up, with more men entering the unit and joining in the beating.
He said he was videotaped with his pants down, and was forced at gunpoint to say on tape that he raped a friend: "Ako si Vhong. Ni-rape ko ang kaibigan ko." (I am Vhong. I raped my friend.)
Cedric Lee, said Navarro, demanded that he pays a sum reaching P2 million to Cornejo. When he agreed, he was brought down the condominium and was led inside a black Ford E150.
CCTV footages in the hands of the NBI bureau show Navarro entering the condominium building and going up through the elevator on his own.
In less than an hour, two men are seen escorting Navarro with his hands tied at his back. One of the escorts holds the elevator open. Lee, alias Mike, and one more man enter.
As Navarro's escort continue to hold the elevator open, another woman enters. Few seconds later, Cornejo enters with Guerrero.
Cornejo is assisted by the woman as they exit the elevator.
Cornejo, Lee on immigration lookout list
Aside from his celebrity stature, Navarro's case gained popularity as law enforcement has tackled the case with much media exposure.
Prior to the filing of charges, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said Navarro's case merited a probe. This was after she was approached by one of the parties linked to the scandal, who she refused to identify.
De Lima on Wednesday said a lookout bulletin order will be issued versus Cornejo and Lee, pending a formal request from NBI or Navarro's camp.
The order prevents the suspects from leaving the country without permission from authorities. – Rappler.com