MANILA - Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo, and five other individuals charged before the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the mauling and serious illegal detention of actor-TV host Vhong Navarro will be arrested should they insist on leaving the country without a written certification from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the trial court, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
Speaking to reporters, De Lima said this is the reason why Ferdinand Guerrero, one of the accused in the serious illegal detention and grave coercion cases, was barred from leaving for Hong Kong around 5 a.m. today.
"They need to get a written permission from the [DOJ] National Prosecution Service (NPS) or the RTC because the case is already in court. The timing [of flight] is bad at this point... why only now that the case is already in court? There is no color of legitimacy," De Lima said.
Should Lee, Cornejo, Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Guerrero, Jose Paolo Calma, and Jed Fernandez insist on leaving the country minus the written permission or certification, they will be effected a warrantless arrest on the spot, and will be charged with obstruction of justice.
Lee and company are subject of an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO).
"That is obstructing justice, frustrating the ends of justice... they will undergo inquest [for obstruction of justice]. Yan ang nakikita naming remedy," De Lima said.
The justice chief noted bookings under the name of some of the accused over the weekend; these were later cancelled.
De Lima said there was a similar incident in the past, regarding a separate case, where the accused was also not allowed to depart by immigration officers because of failure to present an NPS or court certification.
The DOJ filed on Monday morning a motion with Taguig RTC Branch 271 for the immediate issuance of a hold departure order (HDO) against Lee, et al.
The criminal informations were filed with the trial court against Lee and company last Thursday. The DOJ expects the issuance of a warrant for their arrest after the hearing(s) on the motion for determination of probable cause filed by the camp of the accused.
The case stems from the mauling and detention of Navarro inside Cornejo's condominium unit last January 22, and the alleged extortion attempt by the group on Navarro.