Accused in Vhong case threatened immigration officers

Posted at 04/14/14 8:57 PM

MANILA - One of the men accused of beating up and illegally detaining actor Vhong Navarro last January 22 yelled at Bureau of Immigration officers who blocked his departure from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday, sources said.

Ferdinand Guerrero also allegedly threatened to sue them, according to the immigration officer who blocked his departure.

An airport official said Guerrero was at the airport for a flight to Cebu with a connecting trip to Hong Kong when he was prevented from boarding the plane.

Guerrero booked a direct flight to Hong Kong which was scheduled to leave the country at 5:40 a.m.

The female immigration officer who handled his papers was processing passengers at the departure area of NAIA-3 when she was approached by a seemingly innocent-looking person at her counter.

The immigration officer, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, said the passenger was smiling and started a conversation with her about Manny Pacquiao winning back his world title.

"Buti naman at nanalo si Manny Pacquiao," the passenger said and presented his boarding pass and airline ticket.

"Buti nga po, magandang balita sa ating mga Pilipino," the immigration officer replied.

She carefully checked the documents handed to her and asked for the passport of the passenger that she immediately processed using a passport reading machine

The immigration's computer system then raised an alert indicating that the name Ferdinand Guerrero has a pending lookout order issued January 29, 2014 by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The immigration officer then sought the help of her supervisor who conducted a secondary inspection.

She said Guerrero became uneasy when told about his name appearing in the lookout bulletin order and that immigration will not allow him to depart.

Guerrero allegedly tried to weasel his way out of the situation by claiming he is "Fernando Guerrero" and not Ferdinand Guerrero -- or the person mentioned in the lookout order.

The BI's intelligence database, however, showed that the man who wanted to leave the country and the person on the lookout order were the same.

The immigration officer stood by her decision in not allowing Guerrero to depart and added that she is just following the directives from the bureau and the DOJ.

Guerrero then allegedly raised his voice and tried to intimidate immigration officers on duty.

"He was shouting on top of his voice and threatened to sue us all," the immigration officer said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Guerrero, Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo, and 4 other individuals charged before the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the mauling and serious illegal detention of Navarro will be arrested if they insist on leaving the country without a written certification from either the DOJ or the trial court.

"They need to get a written permission from the [DOJ] National Prosecution Service (NPS) or the RTC because the case is already in court. The timing [of flight] is bad at this point... why only now that the case is already in court? There is no color of legitimacy," De Lima said.

Should Lee, Cornejo, Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Guerrero, Jose Paolo Calma, and Jed Fernandez insist on leaving the country minus the written permission or certification, they will be effected a warrantless arrest on the spot and charged with obstruction of justice.

Arrest warrants were also issued last Friday against the 7 for the bailable crime of grave coercion filed by Navarro.

Presiding Judge Bernard Pineda Bernal of the Taguig Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) set bail for each of those charged at P12,000.

The separate case of serious illegal detention is being heard by the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271. - report by Raoul Esperas