TV host Vhong Navarro to file petition for bail on rape case

TV host and comedian Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro will file a petition for bail for his release from detention in connection with the rape case filed against him by model Deniece Cornejo.

The Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 69 issued a warrant of arrest with no bail recommended against Navarro for the rape case on Sept. 19.

TV host Ferdinand "Vhong" Navarro (right) talks to his lawyer Alma Mallonga at the NBI on Sept. 19 (Mark Balmores)

Based on a decision by the Court of Appeals promulgated last July 21, the Taguig prosecutor’s office filed an information with the Taguig Regional Trial Court charging Navarro for allegedly raping Cornejo in 2014.

The information filed stated that on Jan. 17, 2014, Navarro “through force, threat and intimidation, and by purposely intoxicating the victim, did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with one Deniece Millinete Cornejo.”

Navarro is facing cases for rape and acts of acts of lasciviousness before two Taguig courts.

On Sept. 19, Navarro surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding a warrant of arrest issued by the Taguig Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 116 for the case of acts of lasciviousness. Navarro’s bail was set at P36,000.

However, on the afternoon of Sept. 19, the Taguig RTC Branch 69 issued a warrant of arrest without bail for rape against Navarro.

Navarro’s lawyer, Alma Mallonga, said they will file a petition for bail to release Navarro.

“The warrant of arrest with respect to the rape complaint was issued and that case is non-bailable. Mr. Vhong Navarro has voluntarily surrendered also in connection with the rape complaint and he is presently detained,” Mallonga told ANC’s “Headstart” on Sept. 20.

Mallonga added, “Under the laws and the procedure, he will continue to be detailed until bail is granted to him.”

“That will require the petition for bail be filed and we will do it immediately,” she added.

Mallonga said they are ready to face the rape case.

“We are so ready. We are so eager to get on with this if this is what we need to do. Let’s confront it. Let’s just fight. My request is let us not delay. If you are so ready, you are saying you can prove your case, go ahead and do it,” she said.

She added, “Our first and foremost duty, I think, in this case is to set Mr.Vhong Navarro free on bail.”

Under Republic Act 8353 or The Anti-Rape Law of 1997, “Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceding article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.”

The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure states that an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua is “not bailable” when the evidence of guilt is strong.

“No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution,” Section 7 of the rules read.

It added that during the bail hearing, the prosecution has “the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong.”

“At the hearing of an application for bail filed by a person who is in custody for the commission of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, the prosecution has the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong,” according to the rules.

Ferdinand Topacio, the lead counsel for Cornejo, had earlier lauded the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Navarro.

"The issuance of the warrant of arrest against Mr. Ferdinand 'Vhong' Navarro is yet another step in our long, uphill climb to attain justice for our client, Ms. Deniece Cornejo. We have waited more than eight long years for this vindication, and while we are elated, we realize that there is still a long way to go," he told Manila Bulletin on Sept. 19.