MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Cedric Lee, model Deniece Cornejo and their alleged accomplices in the beating of comedian and television host Vhong Navarro are now considered fugitives.
The National Bureau of Investigation yesterday alerted all ports in the country to prevent the escape of Lee and Cornejo, said NBI National Capital Region director Efren Meneses.
“We have alerted the ports in Manila, Davao, Cebu as well as the international airports,” Meneses told The STAR.
Lee and Cornejo are wanted for the serious illegal detention case filed against them by Navarro, along with Ferdinand Guerrero, Simeon Raz and Jed Fernandez.
Judge Paz Esperanza of the Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 271 on Monday issued warrants for their arrest.
In his complaint, Navarro said the group conspired to beat him inside Cornejo’s condominium unit in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig in January.
Cornejo filed rape charges against Navarro but the Department of Justice (DOJ) junked the case for lack of evidence.
Navarro charged the group, including Lee’s sister Bernice, with grave coercion, serious physical injuries and serious illegal detention, which is non-bailable.
Bernice was arrested on grave coercion charge by NBI agents in Lee’s residence in Greenhills West, San Juan City on Monday night. She was detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila.
Meneses said Bernice was released at 1 p.m. yesterday after posting bail.
No longer in Philippines
Meanwhile, the DOJ confirmed yesterday that JP Calma, another accused in the beating of Navarro, managed to leave the country before the arrest warrants were issued by a Taguig court.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Calma left the country on April 10 even if he was included in the lookout bulletin order of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
“The BI officials told me there were different names of JP Calma. The one listed in the lookout bulletin was John Paul Calma, but in his passport it was Jose Paolo Calma. That’s why he was allowed to leave,” she said.
Calma is subject of an arrest warrant issued by Judge Bernardo Bernal of the Taguig Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 74 last week for the grave coercion case.
Also covered by the arrest order were Lee, Cornejo, Bernice, Raz, Guerrero and Fernandez.
Fernandez, Cornejo and Bernice had each posted P12,000 bail for their temporary freedom.
Earlier this week, the Taguig RTC issued another arrest warrant for the non-bailable case of serious illegal detention against the accused.
However, it was not clear why no arrest warrants were issued for Calma and Bernice even if they are included in the serious illegal detention complaint. – With Edu Punay