Vhong refuses rape plea entry

Actor Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro on Tuesday refused to enter a plea during his arraignment for rape via videoconferencing, prompting the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 69 to enter a “not guilty plea” for him.

Navarro’s lawyer Alma Mallonga said Navarro remained detained at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila pending their bail petition on the rape charge filed against him by model Deniece Cornejo.

The Supreme Court has allowed videoconferencing during arraignments. Cornejo was not present physically or virtually during the proceeding.

The Taguig RTC issued on 19 September an arrest warrant against Navarro, who is facing acts of lasciviousness complaint in another Taguig court also filed by Cornejo.

The rape complaint alleged that Navarro sexually assaulted Cornejo on 17 January 2014 inside her condominium unit where the actor was beaten up by Cornejo’s friends led by Cedric Lee.

Bail for Navarro’s temporary liberty for the acts of lasciviousness case was pegged at P36,000. His camp is petitioning the Taguig RTC to be allowed to post bail for the rape case on the ground that the complaint against him is weak.

The filing of rape and acts of lasciviousness cases against Navarro was ordered by the Court of Appeals last 21 July after the complaints were junked by the Department of Justice.

“Ultimately, it falls upon the trial court to determine who between Navarro and Cornejo speaks the truth,” the CA said in a decision that reversed the DoJ.

“It was erroneous for the DoJ to deny Cornejo’s petition for review on the ground that her statements in the complaint-affidavits are inconsistent and incredible,” the CA said.

It added that “issues of credibility should be adjudged during the trial proper.”

The Taguig RTC has denied Navarro’s petition to remain detained at the NBI instead of being transferred to the Taguig City Jail.

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