MANILA, Philippines – (3rd UPDATE) After almost three weeks of hiding, Cedric Lee and Simeon “Zimmer” Raz were brought to Manila early Sunday morning after their arrest in Oras, Eastern Samar yesterday.
Lee and Raz arrived in Manila at 7:43 a.m. on board Philippine Airlines Flight PR 2982, escorted by elements of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Both Lee and Raz were handcuffed during the flight.
Lee and Raz face criminal charges for grave coercion and serious illegal detention, the latter a non-bailable offense, along with 3 other suspects in connection with the alleged mauling of actor-host Vhong Navarro at Forbeswood Heights condominium in Taguig last January 22.
In an interview with the news team during the flight, Lee appeared to be in high spirits and said he is ready to face the charges against him. He also claimed the he and Raz – contrary to the NBI statement – surrendered and were not arrested.
Lee and Raz were brought to the NBI headquarters in Manila, where they will be processed.
The Taguig Regional Trial Court will determine where they will be detained, though they will stay at the NBI Detention Facility temporarily.
Lee and Raz were first spotted and almost cornered by NBI operatives in a beach resort in Barangay 13, Dolores, Eastern Samar as early as Friday, April 25, but they were able to evade authorities by jumping off a wall and hiding in a coconut plantation overnight.
The NBI got hold of Lee’s cellphone and wallet, while Raz was able to bring his cellphone and called the caretaker to safekeep the P170,000 he left. The money is nowhere to be found, according to the caretaker.
Lee’s car was left outside the house.
Local authorities finally caught up with Lee and Raz in a remote town in Oras, Eastern Samar, at 11:15 a.m. Saturday.
Lee, however, claimed in an interview that they tried to escape, thinking that the men in civilian clothes were members of New People's Army.
The news team was able to locate the house where they hid for almost three weeks. Fronting the beach, the 350-square-meter (sqm) house stands in a 1,000 sqm lot with three bedrooms.
According to an informant, Lee and Raz would often stay inside the house or go for a swim in a nearby island.
Deniece Cornejo, Jed Fernandez and Ferdinand Guerrero, all co-accused with Lee for the same charges, have yet to be arrested by local authorities. -- With reports from ANC; Dennis Datu, DZMM