No showing that Vhong is a flight risk - De Lima

Posted at 02/05/14 8:51 PM

MANILA - There is no showing that Vhong Navarro is a flight risk, at least, for now, even as he faces charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for rape, a non-bailable offense, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

Model Deniece Cornejo filed the complaint against the movie and television actor and host-comedian, claiming that Navarro tried to force himself on her. The incident allegedly took place inside her condominium unit in Taguig City last Jan. 22.

Cornejo formally requested the DOJ to order the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to issue a Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO) against the movie and television actor and host-comedian, a plea that came on the heels of the BI's issuance of an LBO against Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee, and three others, in connection with criminal charges Navarro filed against them for beating him up inside Cornejo's condominium unit, also on Jan. 22.

De Lima said she will study Cornejo's request.

"Itong hinihingi ni Deniece Cornejo, hindi pa ako convinced at this point na mapapatunayan yun - na flight risk si Vhong Navarro - hindi lang dahil sa nasa ospital siya (Navarro) kundi complainant nga sya sa several cases against Deniece and Cedric Lee.

"Pinag-aaralan ko yung propriety... Vhong Navarro, he appears to be a determined complainant dun naman sa mga kaso niya against Deniece and Cedric Lee. Now, he may be a respondent now of that counter charge filed by Deniece pero sapat bang dahilan yan?" De Lima said.

Navarro charged Cornejo, Lee, Lee's sister Bernice Lee aka "Marie," Ferdinand Guerrero, Zimmer Rance, an alias "Mike," and several Jon Does with serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest, and blackmail.

Navarro's complaint states that he was invited by Cornejo to her condominium unit on the night of Jan. 22, only to be severely beaten up by her male friends, led by Lee. The complaint states Lee's group also tried to extort P1 million from him.

Cornejo, for her part, claims Navarro attempted to rape her which led to the mauling incident.


Justifying her order for the issuance of an LBO against Cornejo, Lee, and the rest of their group, De Lima said they, especially Lee, pose the risk of fleeing prosecution.

"I'm convinced sa propriety and justification on that. Lalo na on the part of Mr. Cedric Lee, meron sila the means, the motive and opportunity to flee and evade prosecution.

"NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) rin, just like Vhong Navarro, requested for LBO, and sa tingin ko may sapat na basehan sa paghingi ng LBO [versus Lee, et al.]," De Lima said.

Lee is a businessman reportedly engaged in mining, land reclamation, and construction, among others.

He was also accused of beating up athlete David Bunevacz in 2007.

While an LBO will not prevent anybody who is not charged before the courts from leaving the country, it directs all immigration officers to be on the lookout for the subject's departure via all international seaports and aiports.

De Lima stressed that not just anyone may be granted request for LBO.