Rape, acts of lasciviousness vs Vhong Navarro, inatas ng CA sa isyu kay Cornejo

Rape, acts of lasciviousness vs Vhong Navarro, inatas ng CA sa isyu kay Cornejo

August 1, 2022 @ 8:04 AM 1 week ago

MANILA, Philippines – Tuloy ang kasong rape at acts of lasciviousness laban kay Vhong Navarro.

Ito ay matapos baligtarin ng Court of Appeals (CA) ang desisyon ng Department of Justice (DOJ) at ipag-utos ang pagsasampa ng mga nasabing kaso laban kay Navarro sa mga reklamong inihain ng modelong si Deniece Milinette Cornejo.

Binaligtad ng CA, sa isang desisyon na isinulat ni Associate Justice Florencio M. Mamauag Jr., ang mga resolusyon ng DOJ noong 2018 at 2020 na nagbasura sa apela ni Cornejo na inihain sa Taguig City prosecutor’s office.

Sinabi ni Cornejo na nakilala niya si Navarro sa isang Makati City mall noong 2011 sa isang event kung saan naging endorser siya ng isang brand ng sapatos. Sinabi niya na nakuha ni Navarro ang kanyang numero ng telepono mula sa isang kawani sa panahon ng kaganapan.

Pagkatapos noon, aniya, si Navarro ay tumatawag sa kanya o nagpapadala ng mga text message. Naging magkaibigan sila, aniya, at minsan ay pinayagan niya itong bisitahin siya sa kanyang condominium unit noong 2014.

Nagsampa siya ng tatlong kasong kriminal laban kay Navarro para sa umano’y panggagahasa at tangkang rape. Ang kanyang mga reklamo ay ibinasura ng Taguig City prosecutor’s office.

Itinaas naman niya ang kaso sa DOJ na tinanggihan ang kanyang apela. Pagkatapos ay naghain siya ng petisyon sa CA na hinahamon ang mga resolusyon ng DOJ.

Kabilang sa iba pang mga bagay, sinabi ng CA sa pagbibigay ng apela ni Cornejo:

The Court also notes Navarro’s admission that he and Cornejo had consensual oral sex on January 17, 2014. 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.

“On one hand, justice must be rendered to a rape victim bearing in mind that she is physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially scarred.

“On the other, an accusation of rape can be made with facility, and while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even harder for the accused, though innocent, to disprove.

“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.

“In this regard, it bears to stress that the determination of probable cause does not depend on the validity or merits of a party’s accusation or defense or on the admissibility or veracity of testimonies presented.

“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 witness’ credibility.

“There is an inherent impossibility of determining with any degree of accuracy what credit is justly due to a witness from merely reading the words spoken by him, even if there were no doubt as to the identity of the words.

“However artful a corrupt witness may be, there is generally, under the pressure of a skillful cross-examination, something in his manner or bearing on the stand that betrays him, and thereby destroys the force of his testimony.

“Besides, We cannot ignore the on-the-ground reality that an affidavit is oftentimes incomplete. The affiant may be asked standard questions coupled with ready suggestions intended to elicit answers, that later turn out not to be wholly descriptive of the series of events as he or she knows them.

“Worse, the process of affidavit taking may sometimes amount to putting words into the affiant’s mouth, thus allowing the whole statement to be taken out of context.

“This is exactly why discrepancies between the statements of the affiant in his or her affidavit and those made while he or she is at the witness stand do not necessarily impair his or her credibility.

“Ultimately, it falls upon the trial court to determine who between Navarro and Cornejo speaks the truth. Cornejo decries attempted rape on the night of January 22, 2014 while Navarro denies any wrongdoing on his part.

“Finally, it must be borne in mind that the admissibility or inadmissibility of the parties’ evidence should be ventilated before the trial court during the trial proper and not in the preliminary investigation. There need not be an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction.

“What is merely required is probability of guilt, the determination of which does not call for the application of rules or standards of proof that a judgment of conviction requires after trial on the merits.

“WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions promulgated on April 30, 2018 and July 14, 2020 of the Department of Justice in NPS Docket No. XVI-INV-16E-00174 and XVI-INV-15J00815 are hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.

“The Office of the City Prosecutor of Taguig City is thus DIRECTED to file Informations against Ferdinand “Vhong” H. Navarro for: (1) Rape by Sexual Intercourse under Article 266-A (1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353; and (2) Acts of Lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code. SO ORDERED.”