Cedric Lee, Zimmer Raz arraigned for Vhong Navarro kidnap, mauling | Inquirer Entertainment
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Cedric Lee, Zimmer Raz arraigned for Vhong Navarro kidnap, mauling

By: - Reporter
/ 09:12 PM April 30, 2014

Cedric Lee. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Businessman Cedric Lee and mixed martial artist Simeon Palma, also known as Zimmer Raz, were arraigned on Wednesday afternoon for a serious illegal detention charge filed against them and three others by television host Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro.

Lee, Raz, model Deniece Cornejo, Sajed “Jed Fernandez” Abuhijleh and Ferdinand Guerrero have been accused by Navarro of beating him up and blackmailing him for money in Cornejo’s unit in Forbeswood Heights, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig last January 22.

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Cornejo earlier  filed a rape complaint against Navarro, alleging that he had raped her on the same night, prompting Lee and the other accused to come to her rescue and make a citizen’s arrest on Navarro. The justice department had junked her complaints for lack of merit.

So far, only Lee and Raz have been arrested and detained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

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On Wednesday, the two accused had initially asked the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271, which would hear the case, to defer the proceedings, but they eventually allowed themselves to be arraigned after some opposition from Navarro’s camp.

The two had refused to enter a plea, prompting Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes to enter a plea of not guilty for them, confirmed state prosecutor Hazel Valdez and Navarro’s lawyer Alma Mallonga after the hearing.

Meanwhile, the earlier motion by the accused for continued detention at the NBI, and their earlier application to post bail for the otherwise non-bailable crime will be heard on May 6, according to Valdez.

On Tuesday, Cortes directed that the accused to be detained at the Taguig City jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, but later suspended the order when defense lawyer Howard Calleja filed a motion asking that Lee and Raz be allowed to remain under custody of the NBI at the agency’s main office in Manila city.

Lee and Raz, wearing blue and white polo shirts, respectively, were brought to the Taguig Hall of Justice by NBI personnel on Wednesday. They were still escorted by the NBI after the hearing.

When asked by reporters for a reaction on Lee and Raz’ pending motions, Mallonga said that the court had advised the parties in the case to avoid commenting on the proceedings.

“There are rules, and all we want are the rules to be followed. Our position there is to follow the rules,” the lawyer said,

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Mallonga said “we should all be happy that the case is moving.” She maintained that “we rest confident in the process. We await the court’s rulings.”

Earlier in the morning, Navarro’s camp also submitted a supplemental counter-affidavit to a second rape complaint Cornejo had filed at the Taguig prosecutor’s office late in February, in which she alleged that she was also raped by Navarro in an earlier meeting in her unit in Jan. 17.

“She invited him on January 22, but if she was already raped [by him] last January 17, it really doesn’t make sense,” Mallonga said.

Last week, Mallonga told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that “this belated complaint belied [Cornejo’s] earlier declaration” in her first rape allegation wherein she narrated that nothing happened between her and Navarro on Jan. 17.

Mallonga surmised that the second rape complaint was probably meant to “bolster [Cornejo’s] defense somehow in the serious illegal detention case.”

The hearing on Cornejo’s complaint will be heard on May 9, though it is uncertain whether Cornejo will appear to submit a reply affidavit, as she has been in hiding since Cortes had issued arrest warrants for her and the other accused in the serious illegal detention case.

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TAGS: accused in trials, Arraignment, Cedric Lee, courts, Crime, crime victims, Deniece Cornejo, extortion, Ferdinand "Vhong" Navarro, Ferdinand Guerrero, grave threats, Jed Fernandez Abuhijleh, law and justice, news, Paz Esperanza Cortes, serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, Simeon Palma, Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271, trial judges, trials and litigation, Zimmer Raz
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