NBI conclusions on CCTV footage premature: Lee's lawyer


Posted at Jan 29 2014 10:14 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2014 06:14 AM

CCTV footage of Vhong case 'not the whole story,' says Calleja

MANILA -- Atty. Howard Calleja, the legal counsel of businessman Cedric Lee, said it is still premature for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to say that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage it presented on Wednesday supports Vhong Navarro's claim that he is a victim of a premeditated crime.

Speaking to ANC's "Top Story," Calleja, who accompanied Deniece Cornejo in the filing of a rape complaint against the TV host-actor, also said the CCTV videos shown by the NBI earlier today do not support Navarro's denial of the rape claim of Cornejo.

Calleja lamented that the NBI should stop drawing out conclusions this early without "proper evidence."

"The CCTV is not the whole story. It's only part of the story... Our side is not being even heard by the NBI. They are giving conclusions left and right. Eh masyado pang hilaw," he said.

During a press conference, shown live on ANC, the NBI presented footage taken from the CCTV cameras at the main gate, lobby and elevator of Forbeswood Heights Condominium in Taguig City where Navarro was beaten up by a group of men led by Lee last January 22. 

NBI assistant regional director Vicente de Guzman, head of the investigating team in the case, said the CCTV videos support the testimony of Navarro, who denied that he attempted to rape Deniece Cornejo inside her unit at the second floor of the building on January 22.

The CCTV footage shows that after Navarro entered the condo, Cornejo quickly left, leaving Navarro behind in the unit. Lee and several others then enter the condominium.

The NBI said this means Lee could not have witnessed Navarro on top of Cornejo in her room, as the businessman has alleged in media interviews, which prompted him and the other men to beat up the TV host-actor and conduct a citizen's arrest.

Calleja, for his part, pointed out that the CCTV footage actually incriminates Navarro since it shows that the actor entered the condominium first, followed by Lee.

"Eh klarong-klaro na una siyang pumanik kesa kay Cedric Lee. Sinong nagsasabi ng totoo?" he said.

He also said no one should "judge" Cornejo, who was seen in the CCTV footage walking calmly towards the elevator with no signs of being distraught despite the alleged rape incident.

Calleja also said the difference in the time stamp of the CCTVs at the condo's lobby and elevator is questionable and raises questions of whether the videos were tampered.

The NBI, before presenting the CCTV footage taken at the condo's elevator, noted that the time stamp at the elevator's CCTV was 40 minutes late compared to the real time at the lobby's CCTV.

No reason for flight

Meanwhile, Calleja said both Lee and Cornejo have no intentions of leaving the country amid the criminal charges filed against them.

Navarro on Tuesday filed charges of serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense, against Lee, Cornejo and his other attackers.

"My clients will face their cases squarely and with all humility and confidence because they believe in their innocence. There is no reason for flight in this case," Calleja said.

"Wala namang kinatatakutan na ginawang mali ang aking mga kliyente... Kahit na ngayon ang lumalabas dehado sila, hindi ibig sabihin tama yung kabila," he added.

He also said that the fact that Lee and Cornejo went directly to the Southern Police District (SPD) to file a blotter against Navarro after the mauling incident "belies whatever crime or wrongdoing they have committed."

"Kung gumawa ka ng krimen eh tingin ko hindi naman ikaw pupunta sa pulis," he said.

Calleja said he and his clients are hoping that they will be given due process by the court. He added they will not fight "in a court of public opinion."

"Hindi po namin kayang kalabanin ang fans ng ABS-CBN o ni Vhong Navarro o kung sino pang mga kaibigan niyang artista. Pero hindi rin naman kayang labanan ni Vhong Navarro ang katotohanan kasi ang katotohanan ay lababas yan sa korte at ang katotohanan ay ang mananaig," he said.