MANILA - An all-female panel has been designated to handle the preliminary investigation into the complaint filed by movie and television actor, host, and comedian Vhong Navarro and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo, and several others in connection with Navarro's mauling in Taguig City last Jan. 22.
In an order dated January 29, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano tasked Assistant State Prosecutors Olivia Torrevillas, Hazel Decena-Valdez, and Marie Elvira Herrera to expeditiously resolve the case.
Navarro and the NBI filed charges of serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest, and blackmail against Cedric Lee and his sister Bernice, Deniece Cornejo, a certain Ferdinand Guerrero, Zimmer Rance, an alias Mike and two John Does.
Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense and punishable by life imprisonment.
The panel is expected to subpoena Lee, Cornejo, and their co-respondents Bernice Lee, Ferdinand Guerrero, and Zimmer Rance to appear before the first preliminary investigation hearing, and submit their respective counter-affidavits or joint counter-affidavit.
The panel has yet to set the date for the first hearing.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said it is likely for this panel to handle Cornejo's complaint for rape against Navarro, should the DOJ order the case's transfer from the Taguig City Prosecutor's Office to the DOJ main office in Manila.
De Lima has directed Arellano to study the possible consolidation of Navarro and Cornejo's separate complaints.