MANILA (UPDATED)—A Taguig court has denied comedian-host Vhong Navarro’s motion to remain in the National Bureau of Investigation's detention center over alleged rape charges, officials said Friday.
Navarro’s counsel, Atty. Alma Mallonga, previously filed an urgent motion for the NBI to retain custody over the actor.
Navarro cited in his motion that he intends to face the charges against him, and that his surrender to the NBI was prompted by legitimate fears for his safety and for his life as intense animosity exists between him, and accuser Deniece Cornejo and her friends.
He included in his pleading that his wife received an SMS message from an unknown cellphone number with the text, “Pasabi diyan sa asawa mong rapist Mr. Suabi, nag aantay kami dito sa Taguig, paki bilisan”.
(Tell your rapist husband Mr Suabi, we're waiting here in Taguig, hurry up.)
Navarro claimed the text message should be taken seriously, adding that Cornejo and her friends were detained in the Taguig City Jail for mauling him before they were granted bail in 2014.
He stressed that it is possible that they gained connections with gangs inside the city jail.
Judge Loralie Cruz Datahan of Taguig RTC Branch 69, however, explained that Navarro failed to justify the need for his continued detention at the NBI. She noted Navarro did not attach proof of the SMS message, and that the message could be interpreted in different ways.
The court also emphasized that the city jail is mandated to respect and protect the human rights of prisoners.
Cornejo’s counsel, Atty. Howard Calleja, meanwhile, filed a manifestation with urgent motion to transfer detention. He cited the rules of court wherein the accused should be brought to the nearest police station or jail without unnecessary delay.
Calleja also referred to the Bureau of Jail Management Rules and Procedures that an accused should be detained where the arrest warrant was issued.
He added in his pleading for the court to resolve the manifestation, and issue an order for the NBI to transfer Navarro to the Taguig City Jail.
In a statement Saturday, Mallonga said the security of Navarro is of "paramount importance."
"We will continue to explore and implement all options to ensure that he is, and continues to be, safe."
The NBI hasn’t received a commitment order from the court to transfer Navarro to the Taguig City Jail.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that Deniece Cornejo's lawyer is Atty. Ferdinand Topacio. Her current lawyer is Atty. Howard Calleja. We regret the error.