Appeals court denies Vhong Navarro bid to stop prosecution

Appeals court denies Vhong Navarro bid to stop prosecution
Vhong Navarro confers with his lawyer after he surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation in Quezon City yesterday.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8 p.m.) — A division of the Court of Appeals has denied a petition by actor Vhong Navarro for reconsideration and a status quo ante order on a decision ordering government prosecutors to charge him with rape and acts of lasciviousness.

In his petition, Navarro said the court had committed "unwarranted interference" when it reversed the Taguig City prosecutor's office's dismissal of complaints filed against him by Deniece Milinette Cornejo.

Navarro said the complaints filed against him were "incredible" and were correctly dismissed by the prosecutor for inconsistencies in Cornejo's testimony and lack of probable cause.

The Court of Appeals Special Fourteenth Division agreed that determining probably cause is a function of the public prosecutor and that leaving preliminary investigations to them is "sound judicial policy."

It said, however, "although policy considerations call for the widest lattitude of deference to the public prosecutor's findings, the courts should never shirk from exercising their power, when the circumstances warrant, to determine whether the public prosecuutor's findings are supported by the facts and the law."

It said that issues that Navarro raised about the credibility of his accusers, the truthfulness of parties' claims and the strength of evidence in the case "are matters best left to the determination of the trial court after a full-blown trial on the merits."

Preliminary investigations are not a trial on the merits of the case, and are only meant to determine "

The court also denied Navarro's petition for a status quo ante order that would have suspended the criminal proceedings against him saying his case does not fall within the exceptions where this is done.

Navarro was detained at the National Bureau of Investigation-Security and Management Section (NBI-SMS) earlier this week after he surrendered following an arrest warrant for acts of lasciviousness and rape cases filed by Cornejo.

In a text message sent out to media reporters including Philstar.com, NBI Information Division Chief Nic Suarez confirmed that Navarro was transferred from the NBI National Capital Region office in Quezon City where he submitted himself to NBI custody.

"Nasa NBI Manila na [siya]. Sa detention center. He was transferred this morning," said Suarez.




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