Vhong's fame not affecting probe, De Lima says

Posted at 02/07/14 1:09 AM

Actor Vhong Navarro swears by his testimony, accusing Cedric Lee and company of beating him up on the night of January 22, during his appearance at the Department of Justice on Thursday. Navarro appeared in public for the first time since the story gained widespread attention. ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The popularity of Vhong Navarro as an actor is in no way influencing the ongoing investigation into his alleged mauling by a group led by businessman Cedric Lee, according to Justice Secretary Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday.

"This is more than Vhong Navarro and Cedric Lee, although the protagonists would add flavor why this case is sensational. It is the [January 22] 'incident' where we see two versions," De Lima said.

De Lima said it just so happened that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) quickly investigated the mauling incident and alleged rape.

De Lima said the camp of Lee was initially not aware that the NBI had in its possession the CCTV of the condominium, just a day after "the incident."

"The NBI has filed a complaint before the DOJ for preliminary examination after it gathered the evidence and evaluated them. It is not up to the DOJ prosecutors to evaluate and determine if there exists probable cause for the purpose of filing cases in court," De Lima said.

Asked if previous incidents involving Lee would have an impact on the criminal complaints against the accused, De Lima said it is up to the 3-women panel of prosecutors.

"The focus would be on the 'incident' alone," De Lima said.