MANILA, Philippines — “I’m not a rapist. I don’t do drugs. I’m a god-fearing person. I love my family.”
Comedian-TV host Vhong Navarro made this pronouncement on Sunday by his sick bed. He has been confined at an undisclosed hospital since Thursday to recover from injuries that he allegedly got from a mauling by several men on Wednesday night inside a Bonifacio Global City condominium unit.
In an interview on the Sunday talk show “Buzz ng Bayan,” Navarro identified businessman Cedric Lee as the “powerful and influential man” and the leader of a group of seven men who beat him up. “I want justice. I want someone to pay for what happened to me,” Navarro stressed. “I’m scared for my kids, for my family. These people threatened to hurt my family if I’d tell the police what really happened.”
Navarro also admitted to have signed a blotter entry filed on Jan. 22 accusing him of trying to rape a certain Deniece Millet Cornejo, 22, and a resident of the condo unit. Navarro, however, pointed out that he only did so because he was blackmailed.
“They told me that the blotter was their guarantee that I will do what I’m told,” the actor said. Navarro was allegedly ordered to deposit P1 million to a bank account to “repay the damage” he has done to Cornejo. “They also promised that a video they took of me while being beaten up and harassed sexually would not be leaked to the media.” He said he was made to record a video where he said, “Ako si Vhong Navarro, ni-rape ko ang kaibigan ko.”
“They allowed me to go home because I was supposed to deposit the money on the afternoon of Jan. 23. I never got to make that transaction,” Navarro said. “I’m ready for them. I need to be brave. If this happened to me, this could also happen to ordinary people, those who don’t have powerful connections like they do.”
The actor then recalled the events that led to the mauling. Navarro said he first met Cornejo two years ago, but it was only on Jan. 17 when they agreed to see each other again. He claimed that Cornejo invited him to her condo unit. “She even fetched me at the lobby. We drank wine and hung out at her place,” Navarro said. The actor-comedian swore that he did not have sex with Cornejo that night, or rape Cornejo, or try to rape her. “It was clear that she was also physically attracted to me. If she didn’t want what we did, she could have screamed for help.”
Navarro then said he received a text message from Cornejo shortly after he left her place. “She texted, ‘bad boy ka.’ Thinking it was because nothing sexual happened between us, I replied with, ‘I’m sorry. Bawi ako.’”
Navarro said Cornejo agreed to meet him again on Jan. 22. “She even told me she’d cook dinner for me. It was also then when she began calling me sweetie. It was weird hearing her say that after she told me I was a bad boy.”
Navarro arrived at Cornejo’s condo unit at 10:30 pm. “I immediately felt that something was wrong when she said, ‘Ikaw naman, binigla mo ako. ‘Di pa ako nakapaglinis.’ (You surprised me, I haven’t cleaned up.) I said, ‘Alam mo naman na pupunta ako dito.’ (You knew I was coming.) It was at that time when three men came out and pointed a gun at me,” he recalled. “Cedric introduced himself, and then tied my hands and feet with duct tape. I was blindfolded, and then the beating began.”
Navarro said the men stripped him off his shorts. “Binaboy nila ako. I then heard the door open and more men came in to beat me up,” he said. “A guy in a green body-fit shirt told me to give Denise P200,000 to repay the damage I’ve done her. I simply said yes because I was afraid he’d kill me. Cedric then raised it to P500,000, and then later to P1 million. When we were at the police precinct, he tried to make me pay P2 million but I said I didn’t have that much money.”
Navarro said he has not agreed to see his two sons and parents just yet. “I don’t want them to see me like this. My sons were very angry and wanted to get back at those who hurt me. Ang sabi ko, hindi ganoon,” he said. “When I’m finally allowed to leave the hospital, I want to be able to embrace them.”
Navarro’s marriage to former actress Bianca Lapus was annulled in 2008. They have a teenage son named Isaiah. Navarro also has another son named Fredreik from a former girlfriend who is not from show business.
Navarro has been a talent of the Kapamilya network for 15 years. He joined show business as part of the dance group Streetboys, but became popular when he took on the role of Rico Suave, the ultimate ladies man, in the Joyce Bernal comedy “Mr. Suave” in 2003. He also tackled superhero characters like “Gagamboy” (2004) and “Lastikman” (2007), as well as the sleek secret agent King Agila in “Agent X44” (2007).