MANILA (UPDATED) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to charge Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo, Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Ferdinand Guerrero, Jose Paolo Calma, and Jed Fernandez for the crimes of serious illegal detention and grave coercion.
The DOJ, in a 42-page resolution dated April 4, 2014, said it was clear that on January 22 up to the wee hours of January 23 Lee’s group deprived Navarro of his liberty, which is a primary element of the crime of serious illegal detention.
The DOJ said the group also inflicted serious physical injuries on the host-actor and threatened to kill him.
The DOJ said it is also clear that the group committed the crime charged for purposes of extorting money or ransom from Navarro in exchange of his liberty.
As for the grave coercion charge, the DOJ said the group clearly forced Navarro to admit that he raped Cornejo even if he did not.
"May mga circumstances supporting that na tlaga namang he was deprived of his will," Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. "Kapag may infliction of serious physical injuries at lalo na may grave threats at may extortion tantamount to ransom, it doesnt matter kung ilang oras ka lang basta ba you are being deprived of your will."
Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense, but the judge who will handle the case will decide first if the evidence against Lee, Cornejo, and 5 others is either strong or weak to grant their likely petition for temporary liberty when their trial begins.
The panel said the other complaints filed by Navarro against Lee’s group, including serious physical injuries, grave threats, and illegal arrest, were already absorbed in the serious illegal detention charge.
The DOJ filed the case against Lee, Cornejo, and 5 others at the Taguig Regional Trial Court on Thursday afternoon.
Cornejo's lawyer, Howard Calleja, declined to comment for now, saying they have not yet received a copy of the resolution.
"We reserve our right to comment, because we have not received the copy of the resolution, and we also reserve our right to proceed with the legal remedies available for our client," he said.
A tearful Navarro learned about the developments while hosting ABS-CBN's "It's Showtime."
"Sa family ko, thank you. Sa dalawa kong anak at sa iyo syempre Tanya. Maraming maraming salamat sa pagmamahal. At muling pagtitiwala at pagbibigay muli ng second chance," he said.
"Ang gusto ko lang pong sabihin. Wala po akong nilapastangan. Wala po akong nirape," he said. "Simula pa lang ito, may haharapin pa rin kami." - with reports by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; ANC