Vhong Navarro under NBI custody for rape charge

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  • Metro Manila — TV host and actor Vhong Navarro remains under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as of Tuesday, a day after he was slapped with two arrest warrants over complaints filed by model-stylist Deniece Cornejo in 2014.

    Navarro’s camp has yet to file a motion for reconsideration and a petition for bail after he received an arrest warrant for the rape case lodged by the camp of Cornejo — his second warrant just before he was supposed to be released over the acts of lasciviousness complaint also previously filed by the model.

    Branch 116 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Taguig City first ordered Navarro’s arrest after finding probable cause to hold him for trial for acts of lasciviousness. He was allowed to post bail at ₱36,000.

    But later in the day, Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 69 Presiding Judge Loralie Cruz Datahan issued a separate warrant for the rape case, noting that it is non-bailable under Article 266-A (1) of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the The Anti-Rape Law of 1997.

    Navarro’s lawyer Atty Alma Mallonga told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo on Tuesday that her client remains detained at the NBI after the second warrant was issued past 4 p.m.

    Despite the rape charge being non-bailable, Mallonga said she will file a petition for bail and a motion for reconsideration.

    Meanwhile, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio earlier said his client Cornejo is determined to push through with the case.

    The legal counsel also said “the only settlement of this case is when everything has been tried.”

    “The settlement should be in accordance with the dictates of the law,” Topacio said. “Kung ano ang sinasabi ng batas, di po pinag-uusapan dito kung anumang areglo, kung anumang consideration, but in the trial process ay doon po mase-settle ang lahat kung ang isang tao ay may kasalanan o wala.

    [Translation: The settlement should be in accordance with the dictates of the law. Whatever the law says, we are not talking about any arrangement, any consideration, but the trial process will settle everything if a person is guilty or not.]

    Topacio said the case is not only about his client, but also about Navarro’s other alleged victims.

    Cornejo’s side acknowledged, however, that the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Navarro is only a step in a “long, uphill climb to attain justice.”

    “We have waited more than eight long years for this vindication, and while we are elated, we realize that there is still a long way to go,” Topacio said.

    “The accused is wealthy and well-connected, and evidently still has the support of his network ABS-CBN in a desperate attempt to make sub judice statements and play the victim card in his favor,” he added.

    Cornejo’s side said they will continue to avail of legal processes in prosecuting Navarro.

    The Court of Appeals’ 14th Division earlier reversed the decision of the Department of Justice in 2018 and 2020 that dismissed the rape and acts of lasciviousness complaints filed by Cornejo.

    The DOJ previously ruled that the complaints lacked probable cause. Cornejo in her affidavit accused Navarro of raping her on Jan. 17 and 22, 2014.

    Mallonga told reporters her client will continue fighting to prove his innocence, which she said is supported by CCTV footage in an elevator on the day the crime was allegedly committed.

    “He knows he is innocent,” Navarro’s counsel said. “He knows he has people who will continue to believe in him and to help him…life goes on and we will continue fighting.”

    In 2014, the NBI also obtained the CCTV footage. The agency said it supported Navarro’s claim that six men beat him up in Cornejo’s condominium, thus disproving the charges against the TV host.

    “Hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa kasi nandito yung legal team ko, nandito yung family ko, nandito yung asawa ko,” the lead star of hit films like “Gagamboy” and “Mr. Suave” said. “Ang Paginoon kasama ko dito sa laban na ‘to.”

    [Translation: I am not losing hope because my legal team is here, my family is here, my wife is here. The Lord is with me in this fight.]

    The “It’s Showtime” host also thanked his supporters and assured them he will continue working in his daily noontime show. (CNN PH staff)

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