Vhong to pursue grave coercion case

By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 19 2014 08:33 AM | Updated as of Jul 19 2014 04:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Actor Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro is firm on his stand that no settlement is possible in the grave coercion case he filed against model Deniece Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee and several others, his lawyer, Alma Mallonga, said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters at the Taguig City Hall of Justice shortly after the continuation of the hearing for the petition for bail filed by Cornejo, Lee and the others accused in the actor’s complaint of serious illegal detention, Mallonga said Navarro is still considering whether to appear in the third and final mediation of the grave coercion case on Aug. 4.

Navarro did not appear in the previous two mediations on June 2 and July 8. The hearings were ordered by the Taguig City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 74, which is handling the grave coercion complaint.

“During the last mediation, we articulated the position that Mr. Vhong Navarro need not appear. The mediator said that if Mr. Navarro is not really interested in settlement, he wanted to hear that for himself,” Mallonga said.

She said what is under mediation is the civil aspect of the case and their stand is “there is no amount of money that could actually compensate for what has been done to him and Mr. Navarro would rather that the court itself determine how much is the damages.”

Safety first

Mallonga told reporters that she is concerned about the actor’s safety during the mediation hearing should he appear. She noted that during her client’s last court appearance, there were attempts to throw objects at him and shout at him.

The lawyer also said Cornejo’s grandmother was present during the last mediation hearing. “She was not supposed to be there. She has no personality to appear there. The mediator said this would be addressed,” she said.

Another incident Mallonga cited was that during a previous hearing, Lee “insulted” Navarro and said there would be no settlement.

“We raised these to the mediator. In any event, the position of the mediator is we give this one more chance. We will see what is going to happen,” she added.

Others named in the grave coercion charge are Lee’s sister, Bernice; Zimmer Raz; Jose Paulo Gregorio Calma; Ferdinand Guerrero and Jed Fernandez.

Meanwhile, Mallonga told reporters yesterday that they have provided the name and address of Edgardo Sampana, another suspect in the Jan. 22 attack on Navarro, to the Department of Justice for preliminary investigation.

New witness

Navarro’s lawyers presented as their witness in yesterday’s hearing National Bureau of Investigation-National Capital Region special investigator Rommel Ramirez. Mallonga, however, declined to say what Ramirez’ testimony was about, citing the gag order of the court.

Ramirez earlier told reporters that not one piece of furniture or appliance in the Forbeswood Heights condominium unit occupied by Cornejo was destroyed.

Lee earlier admitted that he had asked P1 million from Navarro to cover the cost of furniture and appliances destroyed when his group beat up and arrested the actor for allegedly attempting to rape Cornejo on Jan. 22.