Court denies Vhong Navarro’s request for NBI detention 

A Taguig court has denied TV host Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro’s request for his continued detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila, paving way for his immediate transfer to the Taguig City Jail.

Presiding Judge Loralie Cruz-Datahan of the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 69 issued an order dated Sept. 29 denying Navarro’s urgent motion for the NBI to retain his custody.

Model Deniece Cornejo (left) has accused TV host Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro (right) of raping her in 2014 (File, Instagram)

Cruz-Datahan issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Navarro on Sept. 19 for the crime of rape that he allegedly committed against model Deniece Cornejo on Jan. 17, 2014.

“After a thorough consideration of the arguments of both the prosecution and the defense, the Court finds that accused [Navarro] was not able to justify the need for his continued detention at the NBI facility,” the court ruled.

The Taguig court stated that “it must also be emphasized that the city jail is mandated to exercise great care so that the human rights of the prisoners are respected and protected. Thus, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the presumption of regularity in the performance of duties by the jail personnel prevails.”

“Wherefore, premises considered, the Urgent Motion for the National Bureau of Investigation to Retain Custody Over the Person of the Accused is hereby denied for lack of merit,” the court ruled.

Cornejo’s lead counsel, lawyer Howard Calleja, said with the court’s decision, they will push for Navarro’s immediate transfer to the Taguig City Jail.

“We already got an order from RTC Taguig denying his continued stay in NBI. We will now push for the transfer of Vhong to the Taguig jail ASAP,” he said.

Before the decision came out, the camp of Cornejo also filed a motion asking the Taguig court to immediately transfer Navarro to the Taguig City Jail, saying he “should not be treated any differently.”

In his request, which was filed with the court on Sept. 20, Navarro cited several reasons, including alleged threats for his continued stay at the NBI Detention Center.

Navarro told the court that his voluntary surrender to the NBI on Sept. 19 for the first warrant of arrest for acts of lasciviousness and his decision to stay at the agency after the non-bailable warrant of arrest was issued “was prompted by legitimate fears for his safety and for his life as intense animosity exists between him and the private complainant and her friends.”

He told the court that his wife, Tanya Winona Bautista, received a text from an unknown person with the message, “Pasabi diyan sa Asawa mong rapist Mr. Suabi, nag aantay kami Dito sa Taguig, pakibilisan (Tell your husband, rapist Mr. Suabi that we are waiting here in Taguig, please hurry up).”

“Accused insists that the above-quoted message should be treated not as a mere taunt, but as a real and actual threat which endangers his life and security. In addition, private complainant Deniece Millinette Cornejo, as well as Cedric Cua Lee, Zimmer Raz, and Ferdinand Guerrero, were all previously detained in Taguig City Jail before bail was granted for the crime of Serious Illegal Detention and it is likely that they have formed connections and allegiances with gangs inside the Taguig City Jail,” according to the court decision.

The court stated, “Accused submits that his act of voluntarily surrendering to the authorities shows he is not a flight risk and has no intention of evading the jurisdiction of this Court.”

In its manifestation submitted to the court, the Taguig Office of the City Prosecutor stated that Navarro’s “legitimate fears” must first be substantiated.

The court ruled that “while accused would want this Court to believe his legitimate fears for his life and security, he, however, fell short of substantiating the same”

“The SMS message allegedly received by the accused’s wife could not be given credence. First, the motion did not attach proof of the SMS message; and second, the said message, on its own, could be interpreted in so many different ways, not necessarily as a threat to the life and security of the accused. Moreover, the rest of the allegations in the instant motion, are utterly wanting in factual basis,” the court said in denying Navarro’s request.

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