Model Deniece Cornejo and businessman Cedric Lee (back) attend the Department of Justice's preliminary investigation Friday on the mauling incident involving actor Vhong Navarro on January 22. Navarro, who filed the criminal charges against the two, did not appear. Photo: ABS-CBN News
MANILA - There was media frenzy at the Justice Department on Friday when Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, his sister Bernice, and Zimmer Raz attended the hearing of the case filed against them by Vhong Navarro.
The charges include serious illegal detention -- a non-bailable offense.
The lawyer of the respondents, Atty. Howard Calleja, wanted the media out of the proceedings. The request was denied because it was a public hearing.
The motion of the respondents seeking more time to submit their counter-affidavit was also rejected.
Navarro's lawyer, Atty. Alma Mallonga, said Lee and his co-respondents only have themselves to blame for skipping the hearing last February 14.
The DOJ panel agreed, saying the respondents were already given enough time to answer the charges against them.
The panel also junked the request of Lee and Cornejo to have the National Bureau of Investigation produce a CCTV footage from Forbeswood Heights condominium, where Navarro was mauled by Lee's group last month.
The panel said it was not the NBI that took the footage and the agency only got it by issuing a subpoena to the building security agency.
"Kita niyo naman na handa naman po kami ngayon," Calleja told reporters on Friday. "Kung makikita niyo, schedule nito ay 14 at 21. So handa po kami ngayon, wala namang dini-delay."
Mallonga said: "If there were any delaying tactics, fortunately, the DOJ did its job. Walang kaduda-duda na authentic 'yung CCTV footage."
The panel will next hear the side of two other respondents -- JP Calma and Jed Fernandez -- on February 28. But the whereabouts of another respondent, Ferdinand Guerrero, remain unknown so far.