NBI vows impartial probe into Navarro's mauling incident

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Monday, January 27, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima assured on Monday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will not take sides in its ongoing probe on the mauling incident at a condominium in Taguig City, which left actor Vhong Navarro beaten black and blue.

De Lima made the statement after reports said businessman Cedric Lee, the leader of the group that mauled Navarro, has backers even in the NBI.

"As in any probe that we undertake, I will make sure that the NBI's probe will be impartial and credible. I will also look into Cedric Lee's alleged connections to certain NBI officials, past or present," she said in a text message.

In a television interview on Sunday, Navarro alleged that Lee’s group forced him to admit on tape that he attempted to rape 22-year-old Deniece Millet Cornejo at her condo unit in Forbeswood Heights. [Read: Vhong Navarro: I’m not a rapist]

Denying the allegation, he said Lee also asked him to pay P1 million in exchange for the non-release of the video.

Reports, however, said the actor was beaten up as part of so-called “citizen’s arrest.”

Cornejo was a no-show at the NBI-National Capital Region office in Manila on Monday while Navarro’s lawyers and manager Chito Roño met with de Lima at the DOJ to discuss the incident.

“This is worth investigating because we have two different versions. Justice must be served to the real victim,” de Lima told reporters.

The NBI had already secured closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and statement from the guard on duty, Lero Garvin, when the incident happened on January 22.

Garvin testified that Navarro’s hands were tied with duct tape when he exited the building along with seven men.

“We are already winding up our investigation,” said NBI-NCR assistant regional director Vicente de Guzman yet he was silent on who will be charged for the crime.

Meanwhile, Navarro’s lawyer Dennis Manalo said an unidentified man tried going inside the ABS-CBN talent’s residence in Quezon City right after the actor recounted his ordeal to veteran talk show host Boy Abunda on Sunday afternoon.

"Isang tao na umaligid sa bahay, kumatok, at nagsabi na 'buksan ang gate!' Yung katulong, buti hindi nagbukas ng gate. Hindi naman nakapasok. Talagang pasigaw sa katulong nung sabi niya buksan ang gate," said Manalo, adding they are studying the possibility of seeking protection for the actor’s family through the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

De Lima said they will tackle it as soon as her office receives the request.

Manalo said in an interview over ANC that Navarro will undergo surgery on Monday night due to broken nose he sustained from the mauling. He also urged the actor’s supporters to pray for his speedy recovery.


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