MANILA - The camp of Vhong Navarro and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are ready to proceed with the trial of the serious illegal detention case against Cedric Lee and his co-accused, confident of all the evidence they have against the opposing party.
Speaking to reporters fresh from her meeting with the DOJ prosecution panel, Navarro's lawyer, Atty. Alma Mallonga said they are now busy preparing for trial following the arrest of Cedric Lee and Simeon Raz.
"We evaluated the case, we are preparing for any eventualities. We are preparing, basically, for trial already. We just met for the purpose of evaluating our case, we discussed the things we have to do... because, you know, the accused in this case will do everything to exculpate themselves from liability. We are doing our work to make sure that that doesn't happen," Mallonga said.
STRONG CASE WITH OR WITHOUT STATE WITNESS
The case against Lee, model Deniece Cornejo, and several others is strong, Mallonga said, even minus any accused turning state witness.
One of the male accused had approached the DOJ and executed an affidavit detailing "Oplan Bugbog," a supposed plot to inflict injuries on Navarro. The individual expressed a desire to turn state witness but reportedly backed out.
Navarro's camp says they are open to any of the accused coming forward to tell the truth, but as to whether they be discharged from the criminal case is a different matter.
"We are very confident about our case with or without this supposed state witness. We are ready to move foward without any state witness and confiansa kami doon sa completeness and the strength of our evidence. We can proceed," Mallonga said.
"I have always said, if you are willing to tell the truth, then tell the truth, but the part on consequences of that is not up for us to determine. I am sure that under the law and procedure, baka meron kayong some kind of remedy if you tell the truth but, in the meantime, we are not awaiting for any other witness. We are ready right now."
Navarro is thankful to all government agencies that helped secure the arrest of Lee and Simeon Raz in Oras, Eastern Samar last Saturday.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and local PNP, assisted by intelligence work of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), secured their arrest.
Mallonga said Navarro is happy that the trial may now proceed, and cannot wait to testify in court.
"Nag-usap kami ni Vhong on the day that Mr. Cedric Lee and Zimmer Raz were arrested, and he expressed gratitude for the arrest of the two accused. With their arrest, even if we do not arrest the other accused, we can proceed. Vhong is very much willing already... he wants to testify and make his testimony of record," Mallonga said.
Cornejo, and accused Ferdinand Guerrero and Jed Fernandez remain at-large.
Bernice Lee and Jose Paolo Calma are included in the charge sheet, but the court has not issued any warrant for their arrest.