Co-accused in Vhong case no longer in Philippines

Posted at 04/22/14 3:16 PM

MANILA – Jose Paolo Calma, one of the accused in the mauling of television host-actor Vhong Navarro, left the Philippines on April 10, 3 days before a warrant of arrest against him was issued, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

De Lima said confusion over what ''JP'' in Calma's name stands for allowed the latter to leave the country on April 10.

The Justice secretary said Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials told her that the name ''John Paul Calma," not "Jose Paolo Calma," was the one indicated in BI's database of people with a Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO).

''When I asked how come there was no advice when he was supposed to be part of the LBO, ang naka-register daw sa BI database was the name 'John Paul Calma,''' De Lima told reporters.

''Iba-iba rin kasi ang naging pangalan niyan eh. Sa caption ng kaso, iba ang nakalagay. Sa text ng resolution, iba ang nakalagay. Sa dispositive portion, I would not know kung ano ang nakalagay. I think iyung passport niya is Jose Paolo Calma," she added.

De Lima said she does not know yet where Calma went, but she received reports that the latter went to Singapore.

De Lima said she will talk to BI Commissioner Sigfred Mison regarding this matter and will wait for more information about the nature of Calma's trip before deciding on the department's next move.

Arrest warrants were issued last April 14 against Calma, Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo, Bernice Lee, Jed Fernandez, Simeon Raz Jr. and Ferdinand Guerrero for the crime of grave coercion.

Cornejo, Fernandez and Bernice Lee have since posted P12,000 bail for the grave coercion case.

On Monday (April 21), Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes of the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271 issued arrest warrants against Cornejo, Cedric Lee, Fernandez, Raz, and Guerrero in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed by Navarro.

Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense. Calma and Cedric's sister, Bernice, were not included in the arrest warrants.

Last April 14, Guerrero attempted to leave the country for Hong Kong but was prevented by immigration officers.

Cedric Lee cancelled his April 12 Dubai flight after information about it leaked.