Flight alert on Vhong Navarro mauling suspects

Buena Bernal
The Department of Justice also forms a panel of investigators to determine if there's probable cause to bring the suspects to court

SPEAKING UP. Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee are asserting that Vhong Navarro did attempt to rape Cornejo. Screengrab from ABS-CBN interview

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, January 30, issued a lookout bulletin order (LBO) over the possible flight of 5 suspects involved in the mauling of comedy actor-host Vhong Navarro (real name: Ferdinand Hipolito Navarro). 

The order instructs the immigration bureau to be on alert for the possible departure of Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, Bernice “Marie” Lee, Ferdinand Guerrero, and Zimmer Rance in all international ports and seaports.

The 5 have pending charges before the DOJ for the alleged extortion and beating of Navarro that occurred on January 22 at condominium unit in Forbeswood Heights Condominium in Taguig City.

Cornejo, Cedrice Lee, Marie Lee, Guerrero, Rance and 2 others face charges of 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.

The DOJ formed an investigating panel on Thursday to study the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), assigning 3 female prosecutors to the case. Assistant Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, Assistant Prosecutor Hazel C. Decena-Valdez, and Assistant Prosecutor Marie Elvira B Herrera were designated to the panel. They will determine if the case can stand in court.

The unit where the alleged beating took place is owned by one Soledad Ramos and was leased to Cornejo, who had been staying there for more than a week when the alleged mauling took place.

Cornejo challenged Navarro’s claim that he was the victim of extortion by Cornejo’s camp. She filed a complaint before the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday, accusing Navarro of raping her.

LBO parameters

An LBO would require authorization from government before the 5 can exit the country. While it cannot prevent them from leaving the country, it orders strict monitoring by all immigration personnel.

An official from the NBI will be assigned as the official contact of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for prompt updates on any attempted flight of the suspects, even outside office hours. 

Cornejo’s camp, however, has previously clarified they have no plans to leave the country. 

“Considering this case has already been filed with the DOJ by the NBI-National Capital Region, there exists now a high probability of flight by the respondents,” said NBI Chief Virgilio Mendez in his request to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

An LBO, he said, is necessary “in order not to frustrate the ends of justice.”

De Lima on Wednesday, January 29, said she will issue the order pending a formal request from the NBI or Navarro’s Camp.

The NBI has previously said there is “glaring evidence” supporting Navarro’s version of the events. – Rappler.com