Another accused in Vhong case turns vs Cedric, Deniece

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 25 2014 03:42 AM | Updated as of Apr 26 2014 04:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Another accused in the beating of comedian and television host Vhong Navarro wants to turn state witness.

The accused has sent feelers to the Department of Justice (DOJ) through his parents, a source told The STAR.

“Once the arrangements are complete, he will surface and support the testimony of the first state witness,” the source said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had confirmed that one of the accused has turned state witness after spilling the beans on the incident.

She said the accused, whom she did not identify over “serious security concerns,” is under the custody of DOJ-Witness Protection Program after submitting a sworn affidavit detailing how the incident was planned and carried out.

De Lima said the statement of the witness bolstered the findings of the DOJ that there was “evident premeditation and conspiracy” in the “Oplan Bugbog” committed against Navarro.

Veteran journalist and Pilipino STAR Ngayon columnist Tony Calvento helped the witness reach De Lima.

“The testimony is explosive. The details where, what time and when the planning of the setting up of Vhong Navarro were given to me. The place where they had dinner was also revealed,” he said.

The Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 271 earlier issued an arrest warrant for the non-bailable case of serious illegal detention against businessman Cedric Lee, model Deniece Cornejo, mixed martial artist Zimmer Raz, Ferdinand Guerrero, and Jed Fernandez.

The court did not include Lee’s sister Bernice and JP Calma, despite their inclusion in the charge sheet filed by the DOJ.

Manhunt for Lee

The manhunt for the suspects is focused on Lee, an official of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said.

“He is the head of the group. We believe that when the head falls, everything will follow,” said Elfren Meneses, head of the NBI in Metro Manila.

NBI agents are scouring at least two areas outside of Metro Manila as Lee’s possible hideouts. Meneses did not elaborate to avoid jeopardizing the operation.

Meneses, meanwhile, downplayed text messages accusing an NBI official in the Bicol region of coddling Lee.

“We are also receiving such text messages, but there’s no truth to that,” he said.

The NBI has alerted all seaports and airports in the country to prevent the respondents’ escape. – With Aie Balagtas See, Mike Frialde