What do Cedric Lee and Deniece Cornejo have in common with Janet Lim-Napoles?
Vhong Navarro’s camp can now happily say they are finally over the worst after the Department of Justice (DOJ) junked Deniece Cornejo’s rape complaint yesterday.
The Justice department said it found ‘no probable cause’ or no basis to show that Cornejo was raped by Vhong. After the order was released, DOJ’s panel of prosecutors recommended charging Cornejo, Cedric Lee and five others for violating two articles in the Revised Penal Code.
Vhong learned of the news in the studio of ‘It’s Showtime’ and welcomed it with tears of joy. Philippine Entertainment Portal (Pep) revealed that Vhong immediately thanked his family and those who helped him wade through the rape case, including his manager Chito Roño, legal counsel attorney Alma Mallonga and journalist Tony Calvento.
Vhong also thanked girlfriend Tanya Winona Bautista, who gave him a ‘second chance’ in their relationship.
Attorney Mallonga said that their camp is now focused on the serious illegal detention and other charges they filed against Cornejo and Lee. The case is currently with the Taguig Regional Trial Court.
Malloga said that the Taguig court is not required to ‘adapt the reasoning of the DOJ. It must make its own assessment.’ But since the rape was proven untrue, Lee’s ‘lawful arrest’ of Vhong has no legal basis: ‘Detention is deprivation of liberty.’
Illegal detention is a non-bailable offence that is punishable by ‘reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death’ or 20 years to death. Extortion, another charge against Cornejo and Lee, meanwhile is punishable by ‘reclusion perpetua to death’ or 30 years to death. This means that if proven guilty, Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee could face a jail sentence for life — equivalent to the punishment reserved for criminals like pork barrel Queen Janet Lim-Napoles.
Cornejo and Lee’s insistence on their fabricated statements versus the truth is a sign that many criminals still believe that they can escape the justice system. However, there are many factors today that empower the public to monitor and ensure that the truth is protected by the law and that criminals get punished.
One prevalent technology that disproved Cornejo and Lee’s allegations was the CCTV footages secured by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). By examining the activities of Vhong, Cornejo, Lee and the members of his group, they concluded that no attempted rape took place.
Another factor that helped Vhong was the widespread attention the issue received in the social media sphere. Social media provided fans and speculators a platform to conduct continuous debates on what really happened. This not only coaxed more readers to be interested in the case, it also provided feedback and, most importantly, helped boost Vhong’s morale as the victim in the incident.
Finally, there’s also the DOJ’s initiative to take up the case in the first place. Their initiative is proof that the current justice system is on the side of truth. DOJ also proved that it is working hard to fulfill the administration’s thrust towards a daang matuwid (straight path) by pursuing cases against powerful but unlawful persons.
The system of justice in the Philippines has changed — this is the lesson that Cornejo, Lee and Napoles might ponder on once they land in jail.