MANILA – The lawyer of Deniece Cornejo has addressed the alleged special treatment the detained model recently got when she celebrated her 23rd birthday at her cell in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
In a statement, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said the issue of Cornejo marking her birthday last June 1 is “a case of much ado over nothing.”
“The said birthday fell on a Sunday, which coincided with the ‘Family Day’ for detention prisoners as practiced all over the country. Since it was Ms. Cornejo’s natal day, her close relatives and school friends visited her, and since the majority of her visitors belonged to Christian Ministries, there were group prayers conducted for and with Ms. Cornejo, as is practiced by the said religious denomination,” he said.
Topacio added the birthday cakes and balloons during the celebration were voluntarily brought by Cornejo’s guests.
“It is therefore most unsporting and unchristian-like to blow the simple birthday of Ms. Cornejo out of proportion. No rules concerning her detention were violated, no special privileges were extended, and no untoward incidents were reported,” he said.
Appealing to the public to respect Cornejo’s "dignity and humanity," Topacio noted that the model is still presumed innocent as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We must always hearken to the Biblical injunction regarding casting the first stone, not doing unto others what we do not want others to do unto us, and refraining from judging so that we may not be judged. Basic human decency requires no less,” he said.
On Monday, journalist Tony Calvento shared on his Facebook account Cornejo's letter to President Benigno Aquino III explaining the birthday celebration.
"I'm still an innocent person, even as I have been charged of serious illegal detention, as guaranteed by our Constitution," Cornejo said, according to the letter.
"I feel I'm entitled to marking these important youthful dates of my life with my family, friends, and relatives who came all the way from America and provinces especially that I'm experiencing difficult times," it added.
The undated letter was signed "Deniece Milinette Cornejo."
Cornejo has been arrested and charged for the serious illegal detention of actor Vhong Navarro.
Cornejo reportedly celebrated her birthday with around 20 guests, including relatives and family members, inside the PNP-CIDG's ATCU office.
Former pageant contestant Roxanne Cabanero, who, like Cornejo, accused Navarro of raping her, was reportedly among those who attended the event.