Bernice Lee, 2 others at Deniece's condo before Vhong arrived
MANILA - Three of the eight people facing charges in relation to the mauling of Vhong Navarro on January 22 were in the condominium unit of model Deniece Cornejo shortly before the actor arrived, new CCTV footage of the incident shows.
According to Navarro's legal counsel, Atty. Alma Mallonga, the additional video retrieved by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) shows that the attack on her client was premeditated.
"With respect to the January 22 incident, meron na tayo nakuha na video, CCTV footage that [shows] that about 30 minutes before Vhong came up to the second floor, dumating na sila Bernice [Lee]. May [kasama siyang] dalawang lalaki," Mallonga told radio DZMM on Friday.
The lawyer said the two companions of Bernice are among the respondents in the criminal cases filed by Navarro.
Aside from Cornejo and Bernice's brother, Cedric, who is accused of leading an extortion attempt on Navarro, the alleged attackers named in the actor's affidavit are: Zimmer Rance or Simeon Raz Junior, Ferdinand Guerrero, Jed Fernandez, and JP Calma.
They are facing the following charges: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.
"Kasama sila doon sa eventually eight na tao na nagkaladkad kay Vhong palabas nung building," Mallonga said on Friday, referring to a portion of an earlier released CCTV footage showing Cedric's group bringing Navarro out of the Forbeswood Heights condominium after the attack.
Calling the latest footage of the January 22 incident as the "most important" of their new evidence, Mallonga said it also shows Bernice going out of the condominium without her two male companions.
"Shortly before Vhong arrived, bumaba na si Bernice, hindi na kasama 'yung dalawang lalaki. Ang tanong namin dati, 'Ano'ng nangyari? Saan galing 'yung dalawang lalaki?' Kasi sabi ni Vhong talaga, merong dalawang nagbugbog sa kanya. So now we know.
"What this shows, plinano ito, planado talaga," she said.
In his January 26 interview on "Buzz ng Bayan," Navarro claimed that there were initially only two men who attacked him before he was beaten up by four others inside Cornejo's unit.
"Paglagay ko ng food, papunta ako sa sofa, bigla siyang (Cornejo) lumabas. Pagharap ko palabas na siya, may lumabas na lalaking nakatutok na sa akin na baril," Navarro said at the time.
"Dalawa pa lang muna sila. Pinagsasapak ako. Tapos po nilalagyan ako ng busal sa bibig. Sabi nila, 'Huwag ka sisigaw, kapag sumigaw ka papatayin ko pamilya mo, papatayin ko mga anak mo, papatayin kita,'" the actor said.
Return to condo
The initial CCTV footage released by the NBI shows Navarro arriving at Forbeswood at 10:38 p.m. and using the elevator to go up to the seond floor of the building, where Cornejo's unit is located, at 10:39 p.m.
At 10:40 p.m., Cornejo is seen going down the elevator and leaving the condominium. A minute later, Cedric is seen enterting the building and subsequently taking the elevator to go up at 10: 43 p.m.
Three other men are seen following Cedric to the second-floor unit between 10:43 p.m. and 10:49 p.m. At 10:56 p.m., Bernice is seen entering the building.
At 11:13 p.m., a tied-up Navarro is seen entering the second-floor elevator accosted by two men. One of them was identified as Raz.
The NBI, in late January, said it suspected these two men were already inside Cornejo's unit when Navarro arrived, as they were not seen entering the building in the first CCTV footage.
Cedric's group, according to the NBI, left Forbeswood at 11:14 p.m. to go to the Southern Police District (SPD), where they filed a blotter report against Navarro for allegedly attempting to rape Cornejo.
Mallonga on Friday said another batch of CCTV footage confirms that Cedric's group returned to the condominium unit from the SPD.
"You know, even without the CCTV footage, alam na nating bumalik sila Cedric, si Bernice atsaka 'yung mga lalaki, kasi naka-log 'yun, e. Sa Forbeswood, nakalagay doon, ni-note ng security guard na bumalik sila. Ang paalam daw nila Cedric, mag-aayos sila dahil may magulo upstairs, maglilinis sila.
"Alam na natin na ginawa nila 'yon... Meron nang footage that confirms this further. At ang makikita mo doon, nung paakyat sila, relaxed na relaxed sila," she said.
This new CCTV footage is the same video released Thursday night where Cornejo and Cedric are seen to be intimate inside an elevator.
Referring to Cedric's "affectionate" behavior towards Cornejo, who he earlier denied to be his girlfriend, Mallonga said, "To me, [this shows] that they are not to be believed and are not credible. Hindi magkaibigan lang sila. Ang tanong ko lang -- ano ang portion doon na paniniwalaan sa sinabi nila? Wala na, e."
"Now, napako na sila, nakakulong na sila doon sa kwento nila, e. Ano pa ang puwede nilang sabihin now that this evidence is already there?"
Cedric, Deniece met on Jan. 17
The lawyer went on to detail the contents of another newly released CCTV footage taken on January 17, the night Navarro and Cornejo first met at her condominium unit.
In his sworn statement, Navarro alleged that he had oral sex with Cornejo at the time, which the model denied.
"What the new CCTV footage shows is it's true, they met up. She fetched Vhong paakyat, and I think they stayed there mga two hours," Mallonga said.
"And nung lumabas na si Vhong early in the morning, what the CCTV shows -- ito, nagulat kami dahil hindi namin alam ito, at hindi rin alam ni Vhong -- apparently, on January 17 palang, umakyat sina Cedric after Vhong had already left."
According to Mallonga, the footage also shows Cedric accompanied by a number of the men involved in the mauling of Navarro five days later.
"Umakyat sila doon sa second floor, presumably sa condominium unit ni Deniece," the lawyer said. "So ano'ng pinag-uusapan nila doon? Hindi natin alam. So iyon ang sinasabi natin -- talagang binalak ito."
Meanwhile, Mallonga said Navarro submitted his complaint against Cedric's group as his counter-affidavit in the rape charge filed by Cornejo during the preliminary investigation held Friday by the Department of Justice.
Cedric's camp, the lawyer added, was furnished copies of the new CCTV footage and has been given until February 21 to file their counter-affidavit, in time for the second hearing.
Mallonga also said the petition for a temporary protection order filed by Cornejo against Navarro was dismissed on Friday. The Taguig Regional Trial Court rejected the plea for lack of basis.