MANILA - Businessman Cedric Lee, who has been arrested for serious illegal detention in relation to the January 22 mauling of Vhong Navarro, admitted that he encouraged alleged rape victims of the actor to file complaints against him.
ABS-CBN News exclusively spoke with Lee early Sunday during a Philippine Airlines flight to Manila from Samar, where he was arrested along with co-accused Simeon "Zimmer" Raz on Saturday morning.
Lee and Raz arrived in Manila at 7:43 a.m. Sunday and were then brought to the National Bureau of Investigation, where they were processed and are currently detained.
Asked if he has any fears after getting arrested, "Hindi po, wala naman po. Alam naman ni Vhong 'yung ginawa niya, e."
"Kung kami, may ginawa man kami sa kanya, nasaktan man namin siya sa tingin niyang mali na pamamaraan, may dahilan kami. At siya, kung ano man ang nangyari sa kanya, alam niya 'yung ginawa niya, hindi lang sa isang babae, sa maraming babae na nagsasampahan ng mga kaso sa kanya."
Lee and his co-accused have claimed that they had to attack Navarro to supposedly rescue model Deniece Cornejo, who alleged that she was raped by the actor when he visited her at her condomonium unit at Forbeswood Heighs in Taguig.
Navarro denied raping Cornejo and alleged that he was blindfolded, tied up and mauled by Lee's group. The "It's Showtime" co-host claimed that Lee's group forced him to say on camera that he raped Cornejo, and that they used the video and a police blotter detailing the alleged rape to threaten him against reporting the incident.
The Department of Justice has since dismissed Cornejo's rape complaint against Navarro.
At the height of the controversy surrounding the January 22 incident, former pageant contestant Roxanne Cabanero on February 19 filed a rape complaint against Navarro. She alleged that the actor raped her in 2010 during her time as a contestant in the Miss Bikini Philippines pageant.
While she denied having ties with Lee, Cabanero said she was "inspired" by Cornejo's decision to file a case against Navarro.
At the time, Navarro's legal counsel, Atty. Alma Mallonga, said their camp believes that Lee is behind the new rape complaint and that they were expecting several more women to come out against the actor.
'Come out and file!'
Asked if he had any involvement in the rape cases against Navarro -- a third complaint was filed on April 2 -- Lee recalled that several people supposedly called him about other alleged similar incidents involving the actor.
"May mga tumatawag sa akin na mga kaibigan din daw nila, minolestya, 'yung iba na-rape, 'yung iba attempted rape. Sinagot ko lang to doon sa mga tumatawag sa akin -- 'Sabihin niyo sa mga victims, mag-file sila kung meron silang evidence.'
"Natatakot daw. Sabi ko, 'Huwag silang matakot.' Kung totoo 'yan, maski five years ago, 10 years ago, three years ago... Ngayon kayo nagkalakas ng loob, e. Na-inspire sila kay Deniece. 'Come out and file!'" he said.
Aside from Lee and Raz, arrest warrants for the non-bailable offense of serious illegal dentention were issued against Cornejo, Ferdinand Guerrero and Jed Fernandez -- who remain at large.
All five, plus Lee's sister Bernice and Jose Paolo Calma, were issued separate arrest warrants for grave coercion. Bernice, Cornejo, and Fernandez earlier posted P12,000 bail each for the criminal offense. Calma, meanwhile, left the Philippines last April 10 despite a lookout bulletin order mentioning his name.