Actor Jake Cuenca and businessman Cedric Lee. Composite image
MANILA - Actor Jake Cuenca said he is clueless as to how rumors linking him to businessman Cedric Lee started, insisting he had never heard of his name until the controversial mauling incident involving TV host Vhong Navarro.
In the days following Navarro's interview detailing the January 22 attack, speculation surfaced online that Cuenca had been one of the past "victims" of Lee, who was tagged in 2007 in another mauling incident involving his then-business partner, David Bunevacz.
"Hindi ko siya kilala. I've never even heard of his name until lumabas nga 'yung issue sa kanila ni Vhong. I didn't even know his name," Cuenca told reporters at the sidelines of an ABS-CBN trade event held Thursday in Pasay City.
"So literally, hindi ko alam kung saan nanggagaling na naman 'yung sinama ako doon. Pero never ako nabiktima. And even in that case, I never met the guy, ever," he said.
Cuenca surmised that people may have mistakenly tagged Lee in an incident in February 2009, when unidentified men shot at his car and pelted it with stones near his home in Mandaluyong City.
"I think they're mistaking this issue with that issue I had na nabaril 'yung kotse ko a long time ago. Until this day, hindi ko rin alam kung sino gumawa niyan," he said.
The car, a green Ford Expedition, was left with several dents and a bullet hole in its front left fender. At the time, Cuenca said he had no known enemies and had "outstanding" ties with his relatives.
He theorized that his vehicle may have been caught in a clash between rival gangs.
"So, ang sa akin, I really don't know the guy," the actor added on Thursday. "There's nothing much I can say about it. Anglaki-laki na ng issue na 'yan, tapos dinagdag pa kami ng isang ano. Wala, I don't know, e. I'm sorry."
Lee's accusations 'hard to believe'
On the subject of Navarro's alleged encounter with Lee's group, Cuenca offered that he finds the latter's allegations difficult to believe.
Recalling Navarro to be among his first friends when he transferred to ABS-CBN in 2006, Cuenca attested to the comedian's good character.
"Kaibigan ko si Vhong, so I'm standing... whatever support he needs, nandito ako for him kasi kaibigan ko siya. Kuya ko si Vhong, e. When I started in ABS, mga una kong kaibigan sa ABS si Vhong talaga.
"Noong nakita ko 'yung interview ni Vhong, nalungkot ako, kasi kilala ko si Vhong. Sobrang bait ni Vhong. And nakatrabaho ko na siya at kilala ko siya mang-alaga ng babae, and I don't... Nahirapan akong paniwalaan 'yung mga nangyari," he said.
Model Deniece Cornejo has accused Navarro of raping her last January 22, which allegedly led to the mauling involving Lee.
Cornejo, in her complaint-affidavit in the rape case she filed Wednesday against Navarro, claimed that the actor forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to insert his penis in her vagina, but was "rescued" by Lee and his group.
Navarro denied attempting to rape Cornejo and claimed that he was a victim of extortion. He said he was blindfolded and tied up before being attacked by at least six men, including Lee.
The actor has since filed six criminal charges against Lee, Cornejo and six others. These are: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.
Referring to the ongoing investigation into the case, Cuenca said on Friday, "Sa mga lumalabas naman sa TV, paunti-unti lumalabas ang katotohanan so hopefully madaanan na ni Vhong 'to, he can go back to 'Showtime,' at pasayahin niya ulit lahat ng tao."