DOJ says it will abide by CA order to file raps vs actor Vhong Navarro

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would abide by the order issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) to file rape and acts of lasciviousness charges before a trial court against ABS-CBN television host and actor Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro.

“We will obey the courts,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said when sought for his comment on the recent decision released by the CA.

It can be recalled that last July 21, 2022, the CA’s Fourteenth Division reversed and set aside the April 30, 2018 and July 14, 2020 resolutions of the DOJ, dismissing the complaint filed by model Deniece Cornejo in 2014 against Navarro for alleged rape and attempted rape.

The CA held that the DOJ should have allowed the trial court to decide on the merit of Cornejo’s claim and Navarro’s counterclaim.

Thus, the appellate court directed the Office of the City Prosecutor of Taguig City to file information against Navarro for rape by sexual intercourse under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act No. 8353 and acts of lasciviousness, instead of attempted rape.

It said that it would be up to the court to determine during a proper trial on who is telling the truth.

It added that it was “erroneous” for the DOJ to junk Cornejo’s petition for review of its assailed resolution on the ground that her statements in the complaint-affidavits are inconsistent and incredible.

“Given the peculiar nature of rape, it almost always presents a ‘he said, she said’ scenario which leaves the trial court the task to decide whom between the private complainant or the accused should it believe,” the CA said. “Issues of credibility should be adjudged during the trial proper.

It goes without saying that it is the trial court that has the unique power and position to observe the witnesses’ deportment, manner of testifying, emphasis, gesture, and inflection of the voice, all of which are potent aids in ascertaining the witnesses’ credibility,” the CA said.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, of the Citizens’ Crime Watch (CCW) and former lawyer of Cornejo, welcomed the CA’s decision and assured that the CCW will continue to support her bid to get justice.

“We in the Citizens’ Crime Watch have never wavered in our belief that Ms. Cornejo was the innocent party, and that she was a victim two times over: first, of sexual assault, and later by trial by publicity wherein she was painted as the culprit, and Mr. Navarro as the innocent victim. Mercifully, after all these years, such doublespeak was proven untrue, and Ms. Cornejo now stands vindicated,” Topacio said.

“As always, we have always believed in the justice system, and we continue to stand staunchly behind Ms. Cornejo in her long, painful journey to seek the truth and expose the lies against her for all to see,” he added.

Navarro’s camp, on the other hand, is expected to file a motion for reconsideration of the CA’s decision.