MANILA - The Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the Taguig City Regional Trial Court's (RTC) ruling that allowed model Deniece Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee, and Zimmer Raz to post bail in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed by actor and television host Vhong Navarro.
In a 15-page decision, the appellate court junked the petition filed by Navarro and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking to nullify the Sept. 12, 2014 order allowing each of the accused to post a P500,000 bail.
The case stemmed from Navarro's complaint over his alleged mauling and detention by Lee and Cornejo’s group inside the model's condominium unit in Taguig City on Jan. 22, 2014, where the DOJ found that he was also “actually restrained or deprived of his liberty against his will.”
Cornejo had alleged that Navarro raped her on said date, a case junked by the DOJ.
In upholding the bail grant, the appellate court ruled that the Taguig court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in allowing the accused to post bail.
"The evidence of guilt presented by the prosecution failed to exclude all reasonable probability of any other conclusion; hence the RTC is justified in granting the application for bail,” the court said.
“[I]f the prosecution’s evidence does not establish or amount to a great presumption of guilt, the trial court has discretion to grant the bail in favor of the accused,” the CA decision read.
While the appellate court agreed that Navarro “had indeed been detained,” it pointed out that “there is a possibility that said detention might be legal in view of citizen’s arrest and not for the purpose of kidnapping.”
In granting bail to the three accused, the trial court ruled that the prosecution “failed to provide strong evidence” to support its case.
“There are several hypothesis pre-offered for the single act of detention. This being so, although there is probable cause for the charging of the crime of serious illegal detention, the prosecution had failed to provide strong evidence that said illegal detention is actually serious or actually for the sake of kidnapping. In such a case, the court has the duty to grant the accused bail,” the Taguig court had said in its ruling.
Days after granting bail to the accused, Taguig RTC Branch 271 Presiding Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes inhibited from the case, acting on a motion by the prosecution.