Cedric's interview on Vhong does not count: spokesperson

by Vincent Paul A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 09 2014 12:17 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2014 08:23 AM

MANILA - The spokesperson of Cedric Lee downplayed the statements made by his client prior to the filing of his counter-affidavit against actor-host Vhong Navarro, saying they should not count in the legal process.

Speaking on radio DZMM Saturday, Atty. Raymond Fortun explained that the statements made by Lee without the help of his legal counsel cannot and should never be used against the businessman in court.

"It was not under oath. It was without the benefit of counsel," Fortun said. "That's what lawyers are for. We are here to protect kung ano ba talaga 'yung nasa batas. So ano man 'yung sinabi ng isang tao na wala na 'yung kanyang abogado sa tabi, cannot and never be used against him in a court of law."

A day after Navarro detailed the mauling incident in a January 26 interview on "Buzz ng Bayan," Lee, along with sister Bernice and model Deniece Cornejo, faced ABS-CBN News' cameras to deny the actor's allegations.

Fortun on Saturday said that his client is not used to speaking in front of the media, citing that pressure could lead to some inaccuracies in his statements.

"Huwag po natin tingan kung ano 'yung ininterview niya kasi alam niyo po under pressure 'yan eh," the lawyer said. "Hindi naman po sanay na magsalita sa media, hindi naman po siya artista na sanay humarap sa camera."

Lee, in his interview with ABS-CBN News' Jay Ruiz, claimed that he found Navarro attempting to rape Cornjeo inside her condominium unit last January 22. The businessman said that his group tried to restrain the actor, and was forced to tie him up after Navarro allegedly fought back.

"Let us wait po for the official statements, at least 'yan under record and it is under oath," Fortun said. "If somebody is making an untruth, he can now be found, not only to be a liar, but can actually be charged with perjury."

Footage of the incident taken from closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) in the condominum, described by Fortun as "small samples of an entire body of evidence," show that Cornejo was outside the unit when Lee's group arrived supposedly just in time to rescue her.

"All I can say that he is being judged based on what he had stated on camera, and right now I am telling you, it cannot be used against him because he was without the benefit of counsel," the lawyer added.

Fortun said he would want to be given a chance to see the entire CCTV footage, and that he wants a security agency to certify its authenticity. "I want to see 'yung complete CCTV footage. I want a security agency to certify that it is not tampered."

The lawyer also reiterated his sentiments about the media's supposed attempt to demonize Lee, pointing to this as his reason for becoming the businessman's spokesperson.

"There was this interview with one of those afternoon programs that I really felt so strongly against. Sa pananaw ko, it was a sheer scheme to try and demonize Lee in the eyes of the media and the public," he said.

"I just want to be fair," he said.

Navarro filed six criminal charges against Lee, Cornejo and six others in relation to the mauling incident: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.

The first preliminary investigation on the charges filed by both Navarro and Cornejo has been set on February 14, where the actor's two witnesses have been ordered to appear. A second hearing is scheduled on February 21.