Vhong Navarro mobbed at DOJ, avoids Feb. 14 faceoff with Deniece, CedricBy Christine O. Avendaño
Comedian and TV host Vhong Navarro drew crowds Thursday for starring not in a new movie but in a real-life thriller—one that offers loads of action, intrigue and sex.
His onscreen clowning now replaced by a grim, blackeyed look, the 37-year-old ABS-CBN star went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reaffirm his criminal complaints against commercial model Deniece Cornejo and the group of businessman Cedric Lee in connection with the Jan. 22 incident at Cornejo’s condo unit in Bonifacio Global City.
Navarro also executed two supplemental statements against the respondents, who have been summoned by the DOJ to appear for the preliminary investigation on Feb. 14. State prosecutors granted Navarro’s request to skip what could be his first meeting with Cornejo, Lee and six other respondents since the incident.
Discharged from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, Navarro went straight to the DOJ where he was mobbed by the media, DOJ employees and other onlookers. His eyes still swollen, the bespectacled actor came with his lawyer Alma Mallonga to meet with the three-member DOJ panel handling his complaints.
Navarro reaffirmed the complaint affidavit he signed in his hospital bed on Jan. 23 and executed two more statements dated Jan. 28 and Feb. 4. The documents recounted the beatings he took from Lee and six others, as well as their alleged extortion scheme that forced him to admit on video that he raped Cornejo at her Forbeswood Heights condo unit on the night of Jan. 22.
Cornejo has filed a rape complaint against the actor in the Taguig City prosecutor’s office, while Lee claims he and his friends had to subdue Navarro when they came to the model’s rescue.
Speaking later to the media, Navarro thanked fans and sympathizers who believed his version of the Jan. 22 incident. “For those who prayed for me, thank you very much. To all of you, to my friends who are still there, you give me the strength to face this,” he said in Filipino.
Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena told Navarro and his lawyer that the panel would grant the actor’s request to skip the Feb. 14 hearing. Decena acknowledged the comedian’s reason for not attending: He didn’t want to see his alleged attackers again.
Navarro, however, must show up for the next hearing on Feb. 21, the prosecutor said.
Mallonga said her client had “physically recovered” from his injuries but was still suffering from “psychological and emotional damage.”
The lawyer said the supplemental affidavits were mainly about the text messages sent by Lee to her client, where the businessman allegedly discussed where and how Navarro would pay them.
In one affidavit, Navarro said the messages he got from Lee on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 instructed him to pay Cornejo through her bank account for the damage he supposedly caused inside her condo unit.
“Pasalamat ka ’yan lang siningil niya. ’Pag inulit mo pa ’yan, di lang ’yan ang mangyayari sa iyo (Be thankful that’s all she’s charging you. Do it again and it will get worse for you),” according to Lee’s alleged text message dated Jan. 23.
In another Jan. 23 message, the sender hurled profanities at Navarro for reporting the incident to the National Bureau of Investigation. The succeeding messages, sent on Jan. 24, informed the actor that Cornejo would be suing him for “attempted rape.”
Also on Thursday, the Taguig police filed a complaint in the DOJ against the private security personnel manning Forbes-wood for allegedly concealing the Jan. 22 mauling incident and refusing to cooperate with investigators.
The police invoked Presidential Decree No. 1829 and cited Mega Force security agency for impeding the arrest and prosecution of criminal offenders.
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