Mystery suspect in Vhong case identified

By Tony Calvento, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 22 2014 10:46 PM | Updated as of May 23 2014 10:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Another suspect in the beating of actor and TV host Vhong Navarro has been identified.

Navarro positively identified Edgard Sampana as the one who placed the duct tape on his wrists on Jan. 22 after he was beaten up by the group of businessman Cedric Lee.

He identified him after this writer showed him the photo of Sampana that was provided by an informant.


The informant called up this writer, claiming that Sampana was the man shown on the CCTV holding the duct tape while with accused Simeon “Zimmer” Raz and Bernice Lee inside the elevator of the Forbeswood Heights condominium where Deniece Cornejo was staying.

The informant turned over a picture of Sampana to this writer during a meeting at a fast food restaurant.

The photo is now with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

De Lima ordered Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to consider Sampana as a suspect in the beating of Navarro.

The informant claimed that Sampana is the bodyguard of the family of Manuel Tan, the long-time friend of Jed Fernandez, who is also an accused in the case.

Sampana, Fernandez and a brother of Tan were arrested on Sept. 2, 2013 and brought to the Valenzuela police station.

However, the reason for their arrest was not known.

This writer sought the help of National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria, who ordered the release of the police blotter from the Valenzuela police.

Fernandez had earlier expressed intention to become state witness and spilled the beans on the incident but changed his mind for fear of reprisal from Lee.

Doctor testifies

Meanwhile, Navarro’s camp on Tuesday presented a witness who testified on the injuries suffered by the actor after he was beaten up by the group of Lee.

The doctor testified during the continuation of the hearing on the bail petition of Lee, Cornejo and Raz at the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 271 in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed against them by Navarro.

Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense. The court, however, may allow the posting of bail in cases where the evidence of guilt is not strong.

Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer for Cornejo, declined to identify the doctor, saying the court has issued a gag order.

Navarro’s lawyer, Alma Mallonga, said the witness performed reconstructive surgery on the actor’s broken nose.

The next hearing is scheduled on Friday next week.– With Mike Frialde