MANILA -- Jed Fernandez, one of the accused in the mauling of actor Vhong Navarro, has reportedly backed out from being a state witness.
In an exclusive interview on "Buzz ng Bayan" on Sunday, veteran journalist and Pilipino STAR Ngayon columnist Tony Calvento, who is helping the camp of Navarro in doing investigative and research work, said Fernandez initially expressed his interest to be a state witness through a friend.
Calvento said it was Fernandez's friend who personally met with him in a Japanese restaurant and revealed the supposed plan of Cedric Lee's group against Navarro.
"We went to a Japanese restaurant, I went alone at nagusap kami. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Bakit kita tutulungan? Ano'ng sasabihin mo?' Sabi niya kaibigan niya si Jed Fernandez," he said.
According to Fernandez's friend, Lee called a meeting at a poolside of a hotel on January 22, the day Navarro was mauled, to agree on what to do to the "It's Showtime" host.
"Nagtawag daw ito si Cederic Lee ng isang para bang general meeting ng mga taong involved nang gabing iyon. That was January 22, the same day that Vhong was mauled."
He said Lee and his group all agreed to "teach Vhong a lesson."
"Masyadong mainit si Cedric, to the point na ang dating daw ni Cedric e gusto niyang patayin si Vhong," Calvento said. "Then after ng usap-usap na iyong they agreed to teach Vhong a lesson. What lesson it was, wala akong idea."
Calvento said the man he was talking to in the Japanese restaurant even called Fernandez who was crying on the phone.
"Tinawagan niya si Jed, binigay niya sa akin ang telepono, kinausap niya 'ko," he said. "He was crying, 'tulungan mo naman ako, natatakot ako kay Cedric, baka ako'y patayin, tulungan mo 'ko, bigyan mo ko ng proteksiyon, pero sasabihin ko lahat ng totoo.'"
Calvento said Fernandez, as a sign of good will, even revealed the identity of the person seen holding a duct tape with Lee's group in a CCTV footage the night Navarro was mauled.
However, Calvento only disclosed the suspect's first name, Edgar, in the "Buzz ng Bayan" interview, saying "he knows who he is."
He said Fernandez's friend revealed later in their conversation that Edgar is their family's driver-bodyguard.
After that, Calvento said he told Fernandez and his friend to seek help from the Department of Justice (DOJ) if they really want protection.
The two vowed to appear before the DOJ on Holy Tuesday, but both decided to go to the Justice Department on the Monday after the Holy Week, carrying an affidavit.
Calvento said Fernandez and his friend gave three reasons why they wanted to turn against Lee.
"They wanted to be a state witness, to be discharged from the roster of the accused.. para daw matapos na rin ang mga ginagawa ni Cedric, at kasi takot na takot sila kay Cedric Lee, para mabigyan naman sila ng proteksyon at ang kanilang mga pamilya," Calvento said.
However, Calvento said that according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Fernandez, for some reason, decided to back out in fear for his life.
"I am only basing sa binanggit sa akin ni Secretary na he changed his mind, he's a cry baby and that he is very scared of Cedric Lee and what he can do to his family... Umatras siya," he said.
Despite this, Calvento said Navarro's camp remains confident because Fernandez and his friend already appeared before the DOJ and gave a lot of details.
"Humarap sila sa DOJ e, nagsalita sila at marami kaming nakuha." -- Buzz ng Bayan, April, 27, 2014