Model Deniece Cornejo and businessman Cedric Lee. Composite Image
MANILA -- (UPDATED) The case surrounding the mauling of Vhong Navarro took a crucial turn on Monday after it was learned that one of the seven persons facing criminal charges is seeking to turn state witness and reveal the alleged plan to beat up the actor on the night of January 22.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, one of the men accused, whom she did not name, has applied to become a state witness to detail an alleged "Oplan Bugbog" planned by the group of businessman Cedric Lee.
"I cannot divulge yet the name, kasi kung malaman nung iba, lalo na 'yung pinaka-principal na accused, baka may balakin," de Lima said. "And he is really very scared, umiiyak nga nang umiiyak so we will announce in due time. Maybe tomorrow. Ipa-fast track naman ang application."
The others accused in the mauling are Deniece Cornejo, Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Jed Fernandez, Jose Paolo Calma and Ferdinand Guerrero.
Last week, arrest warrants for all seven were issued by the Taguig Metropolitan Trial Court in connection with the criminal charge of grave coercion.
On Monday, arrest warrants for the non-bailable offense of serious illegal detention were issued by the Taguig Regional Trial Court against the group, with the exception of Calma and Bernice Lee.
'Prepared to tell all'
De Lima said the application of one of the accused to turn state witness is now being processed. However, she stressed that it is still up to the court whether to grant it.
"He is now being handled by the witness protection program. This accused will be narrating -- I have seen his draft affidavit -- the entire incident, beginning with the planning.
"There was a planning made by the group of Cedric Lee. Ang sabi nga 'Oplan Bugbog.' So from the planning to the actual incident, he is prepared to tell all," she said.
De Lima added that the account of this accused, while still up for evaluation, will strengthen the case against Lee and the rest.
"It applies premeditation, evident premeditation... It bolsters the findings of consipracy and kung sinu-sino talaga ang bumugbog nang todo-todo, sakop 'yan," she said.
The January 22 incident took place at Cornejo's condominium unit in Taguig. Navarro was tied up, blindfolded and mauled by the group, and was then brought to the Southern Police District where he was made to sign a blotter that detailed his supposed attempt to rape Cornejo.
Cornejo's rape complaint against Navarro has since been dismissed. -- Reports from Henry Atuelan, DZMM; Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News