MANILA, Philippines - Another businessman involved in the attack on television host and comedian Vhong Navarro last month appeared before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday to answer a string of criminal charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Jaypee Calma faced the three-woman DOJ panel chaired by Assistant State Prosecutors Olivia Torrevillas and submitted a counter-affidavit denying charges of serious illegal detention, a non-bailable offense; serious physical injury; grave threats; grave coercion; illegal arrest and blackmail.
He left the DOJ premises immediately after the hearing and did not grant interviews to reporters.
In his counter-affidavit, Calma denied participating in Navarro’s beating. He claimed when he went up to Deniece Cornejo’s unit in Forbeswood Heights Condominium Tower 2 in Taguig City, he saw his friends beating up a man he did not recognize at first.
Calma said he even told the group to go down since the commotion was already attracting the attention of other residents in the condominium.
Another hearing will be held on March 7 for another suspect, Jeff Fernandez, to submit his answer to the charges against him.
In the hearing last Feb. 21, businessman Cedric Lee, model Cornejo and mixed martial arts expert Zimmer Rance all denied the same charges.
In her counter-affidavit, Cornejo claimed that Navarro raped her twice. Lee and his group, on the other hand, said they only came to her rescue.
National Bureau of Investigation probers earlier found Navarro’s statement consistent with closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage submitted by the condominium’s security office.
A video showed Navarro – wearing a cap – leaving the building with his hands tied behind his back, along with eight people, including Lee and Cornejo, at around 11 p.m. last Jan. 22.
Navarro claimed that the respondents beat him and tried to extort up to P2 million from him while he was in Cornejo’s unit.