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. Photo: ABS-CBN News
'Ginagawa ko rin po ito dahil ayoko nang maulit ito, ayoko nang maulit sa kapwa ko artista, ayaw ko na pong maulit ito sa mga ordinaryong tao.'
MANILA - Actor-host Vhong Navarro on Thursday recalled his ordeal allegedly in the hands of at least six men on January 22, saying he didn't think he would survive the night.
"Akala ko po katapusan ko na, e. Akala ko po mawawala na ako," Navarro told ABS-CBN News' Korina Sanchez shortly after appearing at the Department of Justice to re-affirm his complaint-affidavit in relation to the mauling incident.
The "It's Showtime" co-host was asked what went through his mind during the attack, which left him with serious injuries, including a broken nose that required reconstructive surgery.
Navarro claimed that he was set up by model Deniece Cornejo for an extortion attempt allegedly led by businessman Cedric Lee. The actor said he was blindfolded, tied up and attacked by "six to seven men" inside Cornejo's condominium unit in Taguig. He also alleged that his private parts were abused and recorded on video, which Lee has denied.
"Gusto ko pong maging klaro muna 'yung utak ko," Navarro said on Thursday, when asked to recall the mauling. "Honestly, hindi ko po magawang magdasal muna that time. Kasi parang pinapalikas pa siguro ni Lord 'yung damdamin ko na, 'Dapat mag-focus ka.'"
"Kasi ang sabi po sa akin ng mga doktor, sa mga tama ko po, pwede po akong himatayin. Sa mga tama ko po, pwede ako mabulag. Ang sa akin no'n, kailangan mag-focus ako. Kasi natatakot po ako no'n, sobra. Ang gusto ko lang mangyari, matapos na ito."
A cry for help was not an option then, Navarro recalled. He said Lee's group threatened to kill his family, including his two sons, if he attempted to make a sound to draw attention.
"Bawal po akong magsisigaw, e. Bawal magsalita. Kasi do'n po ako sinasabihan na, 'Pag sumigaw ka, papatayin namin ang mga anak mo. Papatayin namin mga magulang mo. Papatayin kita.' 'Yung ginugulpi nila ako, nagawa na po nila at may dalang baril. Kaya pwede po nilang gawin iyon," he said.
According to Navarro's account of the incident, he was then brought by Lee's group to the Southern Police District, where a blotter detailing his supposed sexual assault on Cornejo was filed. The blotter, along with the recorded video supposedly showing his "confession" that he raped Cornejo, were allegedly used to blackmail the actor.
"Video po iyon na kailangan ko raw sabihin na, 'Ako si Vhong Navarro, nang-rape ako ng kaibigan.' Iyon po 'yung hawak nilang video. Dalawa po ang kumuha no'n, naalala ko po," he said.
"Kaya po sila gumawa ng blotter laban sa akin, iyon po ay para proteksyon nila laban sa akin, kung sakaling magsumbong ako o gumawa po ako ng ibang aksyon," Navarro added.
He said he did as we as told, recalling he initially hesitated to seek treatment in a hospital as it would risk news of the incident coming out.
"Kasi po, ang iniisip ko po, hindi lang ang sarili ko, e. Pati po 'yung mga anak ko po, pamilya ko po. May gagawin po silang hindi maganda, balak po nilang patayin," he said.
However, on January 24, two days after the attack, a report detailing the contents of the blotter filed with the SPD was aired. This prompted Navarro to deny the allegation of "attempted rape" against him. A day later, an emotional Navarro appeared on "Buzz ng Bayan" in his first interview since the mauling went public.
In his interview with Boy Abunda, Navarro named Cornejo and Lee as those behind the attack. Both went on record a day later to deny the actor's allegations.
Cornejo, in her rape complaint filed against Navarro last January 29, alleged that she was "rescued" by Lee's group from being sexually assaulted by the actor, which supposedly led to the mauling.
Navarro on Thursday said he is still clueless at to why he was attacked by Lee's group, supposedly in connivance with Cornejo. The actor noted he had only met Lee once at a party before the incident.
"Hindi ko po alam, e. Kasi una, tinanong ko siya (Deniece) kung may boyfriend siya. Sabi niya wala. Hindi ko alam kung boyfriend niya si Cedric, hindi ko po alam. Kaya nagulat nalang po ako nung time na gawin nila sa akin 'yung pambubugbog, 'yung video na pang-blackmail nila ta's hiningan po nila ako ng pera," he said.
In his affidavit, Navarro said he and Cornejo met at a shoe store two years ago and "developed a friendship" through Facebook. After some time of not communicating, Navarro said he and Cornejo got in touch again through the same site and the mobile app Viber in November. This, according to the actor, eventually led to their first "personal meet-up" on January 17, five days before Navarro was attacked.
During this "first date," the actor alleged he and Cornejo had "oral sex," which the model denied.
Asked on Thursday if he ever did anything to offend or violate Cornejo, which may have motivated the attack, Navarro said, "Wala po akong kasalanan kay Deniece."
Navarro cited the contents of a recent CCTV footage released by the National Bureau of Investigation, saying these can prove that he never attempted to rape Cornejo.
"Kita naman po sa CCTV, wala po akong pwedeng rape-in doon, dahil po ang kasama ko doon, dalawang lalaking armado. Kitang-kita po sa CCTV, bumaba po siya (Cornejo), iniwan niya po ako doon. Hindi po ako pwedeng sumunod sa kanya because merong nakatutok sa aking baril. At naka-duct tape narin po ako," he said.
The actor has since filed six criminal charges against Lee's group: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.
Others identified by Navarro as his alleged attackers in his affidavit are: Zimmer Rance or Simeon Raz Junior, Ferdinand Guerrero, Jed Fernandez, JP Calma and Bernice Lee.
"Wala po akong kasalanan kay Deniece," Navarro emphasized. "May kasalanan po ako sa girlfriend ko. Doon po ako nagkasala. Doon po ako nagkasala, sa kanya po. Wala po akong kasalanan kay Deniece."
"Kasalanan ko na pumunta ako sa condo, kahit may girlfriend ako," he said, referring to his non-showbiz partner reportedly of five years. "Kaya sobrang humihingi ako ng tawad sa girlfriend ko, sobra-sobra po."
Navarro also credited his girlfriend for encouraging him to speak up and take his case to court. "Kahit ganito ang nangyari, mas iniisip niya parin ako."
Citing the mounting support for him, both from colleagues and fans, Navarro said he has come to realize that going public with his ordeal will help prevent similar incidents from happening.
"Kung hindi ako magsasalita, kung ibibigay ko 'yung gusto nila, feeling ko hindi rin ako matatahimik, e," he said. "Ginagawa ko rin po ito dahil ayoko nang maulit ito, ayoko nang maulit sa kapwa ko artista, ayaw ko na pong maulit ito sa mga ordinaryong tao."
The first preliminary investigation on the charges filed by both Navarro and Cornejo has been set on February 14, where the actor's two witnesses have been ordered to appear. A second hearing is scheduled on February 21.