Cedric Lee and Deniece Cornejo. Composite image
MANILA -- (UPDATE 2) The Taguig Regional Trial Court has allowed model Deniece Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee and Simeon Raz, Jr. to post bail in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed against them by actor-host Vhong Navarro.
According to a source at the Department of Justice, the bail was set at P500,000 each.
In an interview with DZMM reporter Jun Lingcoran on Monday, Atty. Sal Panelo, legal counsel of Cornejo, confirmed the news, citing the office of Lee's lawyer, Howard Calleja.
"Nakatanggap sila ng mensahe na nagkaroon ng nag-grant ng bail. In fact, pati sila lola of Deniece Cornejo ay pumunta sa court to get a copy of the resolution. ...The court has confirmed na mayroon ngang grant ng bail," Panelo said.
"Lagi naming sinasabi na walang serious illegal detention sapagkat unang-una paano magkakaroon ng serious illegal detention, alam natin na nabugbog si Vhong Navarro dahil 'yung mga nag-rescue kay Deniece ay naabutan siyang na sexual assault. So nung binubugbog siya hindi mo pwedeng sabihin na dini-detain siya dahil that's inherent sa pagsuntukan o pag-rescue. 'Di naman pwede na sasabihin mo na na-detain mo 'yan kasi hindi nakaalis dahil binubugbog mo, kaya walang illegal detention doon. At pangalawa siya ay dinala sa presinto," he added.
Calleja's law office also released a statement, saying they "welcome this positive development in the case."
"This is a big step in proving what we have been reiterating from the inception of this case which is the truth -- that our clients are innocent of the charges against them," the statement read.
Cornejo, who accused the actor of sexually assaulting her on January 17 and 22, has filed two rape complaints against Navarro, which have been dismissed.
Cornejo is under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at Camp Crame in Quezon City, while Lee and Raz are detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
Navarro camp 'shocked'
Meanwhile, Atty. Alma Mallonga, the lawyer of Navarro, said they have not received a copy of the resolution yet, but admitted that she was was shocked and puzzled why the court allowed the suspects to post bail when the serious illegal detention case was already qualified before the court.
''Hindi ko lang maintindihan kung paanong sasabihin na walang serious illegal detention,'' the lawyer explained over DZMM. ''This case is serious illegal detention because the 'illegal detention' was qualified by threats to kill, saka 'yung serious physical injuries at 'yung component ng ransom.''
Mallonga said the public should have seen how strong and steady Navarro was during the hearings and how his statements before the court were left unanswered by the opposing camp.
"Unfortunately, the court has not allowed more public information about how this case has been going on. There's been basically almost a gag order. That's the only way to call it,'' Mallonga lamented. ''So you did not know how Vhong testified, how steady he was in his testimony, how strong he was in his recollection of the events... Walang nakalaman nun because the judge said nobody is going to watch.''
"'Yung testimony ni Vhong that he was detained, that he was threatened, that a gun was pointed on his head, that was unrebutted, it was never contradicted. 'Yung testimony ng doktor that he required an operation because otherwise Vhong would have a deformation on his face, that's also unrebutted," she added.
Mallonga also said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also gave them new evidence that all the accused were gathered in a place which is just a few minutes away from where the incident happened to plan against actor.
''Part of what we presented before the court is a permission to present additional evidence, which is evidence that even before the Forbeswood incident happened, one hour before, all the accused were gathered in a place a few minutes away from Forbeswood nagpaplano na sila doon pa lang... all of them,'' she said.
With the court's decision, the camp of Navarro now fears that all the accused may be allowed to go out of the country.
''We'll try to make sure that it is not done,'' Mallonga said, adding that she will be meeting with the prosecutors to discuss what to do next.
She said that they will also discuss if there is the basis if the court is still in the position to decide on the case, given the developments.
''The other thing we have to think about is we have to find how out the judge decided, how he did. And then kung meron, maybe, na basehan, to maybe think that this court is no longer in the position to decide on the case,'' the lawyer said.
However, Mallonga said that while ''inhibition is always on the table... Unfortunately, we, under the present rules.. This is something that we file with the same judge."