Lawyer appeals: Don't prejudge Cedric, Deniece

By Shiela Reyes,

Posted at Jan 30 2014 10:47 AM | Updated as of Jan 31 2014 07:59 AM

Atty. Howard Calleja, lawyer of Cedric Lee and Deniece Cornejo

MANILA – The lawyer of Cedric Lee and Deniece Cornejo is asking the public not to prejudge his clients based on the CCTV footage of the condominium.

In an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” Thursday, Atty. Howard Calleja said the footage, which was obtained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), does not tell the whole story of what really transpired on January 22.

He further said that the CCTV footage should have to be authenticated by the court first.

“In the court of law, a video or CCTV has to be authenticated. It must be offered in evidence, accepted as evidence, and deemed valid as legal evidence. Only at that point can it be considered as part of the case together with other evidence,” he said.

“Once all of those evidence on both sides are given, only then can the court decide. That’s why I’m saying I hope that the public will wait for both sides or for the court to decide because we are not presenting our case to the court of public opinion,” he added.

Calleja said it is best that the footage be presented to the proper court for authentication before he comments on its contents.

If in case the video be accepted as legal evidence, Calleja said it remains questionable since it does not show what happened in the room.

“What happened in the room, only Vhong (Navarro) and Deniece can say because sila lang ang nandoon before other people came in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Calleja also denied that Navarro and Cornejo had sex during the actor’s first visit to the condominium last January 17.

“We talked about that and Deniece said na talagang walang nangyari nung time na yun. Sabihin na natin for the sake of argument na may nangyari, but if you say ‘no’ on the second time, a ‘no’ is a ‘no.’ A rape is rape. At the end of the day, let the court decide,” he said.

Calleja also defended his clients on why they did not even inform the condominium guard immediately after the incident.

“All I’m saying is, bakit tayo pupunta sa gwardiya? Pumunta nga tayo sa pulis eh. It is highly improbable for something na may nangyari ay hindi pupunta sa pulis. Siya (Cornejo) nga ang nagreklamo. Whether you told the guard or not, it doesn’t lessen the crime of rape,” he said.

As to the alleged calm demeanor of Cornejo while inside the elevator as seen in the CCTV footage, Calleja said: “I have handled a lot of rape cases, each person reacts differently. You cannot stereotype a victim. That is the worst thing you can do to a victim.”

Deniece, Cedric won’t flee

Meanwhile, Calleja denied that both Lee and Cornejo have booked a flight to Singapore.

“Anybody can make a booking for you. That can be a booking by somebody na gusto silang siraan or somebody else who made a booking under whoever’s name. It doesn’t mean that they themselves made the booking or they themselves will leave. It is still to be seen on February 6 or February 5, I don’t know when, if talagang sila man yun, or kung sila ay aalis na may kasama man,” he said.

Calleja said the two do not have intentions of leaving the country to escape from the controversy they are embroiled in.

“Sabi ko nga, I’m sure hindi sila aalis. Hindi sila tatakas. If ever they would leave, it will only be temporary. I assure you and the Filipino people that my clients will be here to face the cases,” he said.

Calleja said he would put in line his own name that the two will be around to face the case against Navarro.