MANILA, Philippines – Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee are finally cleared to transfer to a regular city jail after the Taguig Regional Trial Court denied any of their motions and pleas to prohibit and delay the possible transfer.
Businessman Cedric Lee, commercial model Deniece Cornejo and martial artist Simeon Palma Raz Jr. who are accused in the assault, grave coercion and serious illegal detention of Vhong Navarro, a host have been reasoning out that “their safety and their lives will be greatly endangered” if they won’t be allowed to stay in their current detention facilities anymore. Cornejo, who surrendered last May 5, is currently detained at Camp Crane, Quezon City under the custody of Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group while Lee and Raz are hold at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Manila who were arrested last April 6.
Taguig RTC Branch 271 presiding judge, Paz Esperanza Cortes says that, "For them to stay at the NBI and the CIDG without any basis would be against the law." After all, according to a resolution signed June 16, obtained by STAR columnist Tony Calvento; the Bureau of Corrections has the mandate over national inmates serving sentences of more than three years such as Cornejo, Lee and Raz.
"It is not, therefore, the NBI or the CIDG who has the jurisdiction in this case on the persons of the accused who are awaiting trial," Cortes pointed out.
Cornejo, on her defense, referred to the complainant, Vhong Navarro to be “very famous” with “many loyal, passionate fans across the country, among them are the ardent inmates of regular city jails.” With this, she has already asked for humanitarian consideration from the court for her to remain under the custody of the CIDG-Women and Children Protection Unit. Moreover, Lee and Raz appealed also arguing that Navarro’s “celebrity status” and the case’s great media exposure will make them vulnerable to inmates in a regular jail.
Lee and Raz’ lawyers made a statement regarding this: "That even before the DOJ had allegedly found probable cause against them, they had already received numerous threats on their lives which necessitated for them to go into hiding.”
Paz Cortes, however, said that the inmates have no access to Internet services whatsoever and could not possibly be among those who allegedly threaten the accused’ lives. The Taguig court judge has also personally inspected all three jail facilities under its jurisdiction and conducted several interviews with the wardens and inmates. Cortes reported that, "The interview of the Court on the detained prisoners had resulted [in] a finding that the detained prisoners had not hatred in mind against the accused herein.”
With the current motions, the loopholes of which Cornejo, Lee and Raz can remain in their current detention facilities remain very narrow.