Journalist and TV personality Ramon Tulfo started it. His award winning show Isumbong mo kay Tulfo (“Report it to Tulfo”) encouraged Filipinos to approach the media first before the police. In the Philippines, the common sentiment is that the police may itself be a party to the crime, so get the media involved as well just in case. So started a a strong Filipino tradition of trial-by-media and “investigative journalism”.
The most recent instance of this bizarre tradition of media being in the forefront of a criminal investigation is the Vhong Navarro case. Media have it easy. Every cop and his dog involved in the case seem to be willing to go on record with their personal version of the story — on condition that they remain anonymous. Snippets of information revealed by anonymous police officers such as this are typical as the case makes waves…
The police officer who recorded the entry told the Inquirer that when Navarro was brought to the station, he already had bruises on his face and his hands were also tied with a tape. The blotter, however, did not give a clear account of how the actor sustained those bruises.
“He (Navarro) was saying sorry to the girl at the station,” the officer who refused to be identified said.
Considering the meagre salary of the average Filipino police officer, it is not surprising that reporters with sufficient budget to buy scoops from snitches and cops frequently get their story.
Indeed, in this case, the police were bypassed altogether as Navarro’s personal account of the incident was revealed in detail in a “tell-all” interview with TV celeb Boy Abunda on his show Buzz ng Bayan last Sunday. Navarro’s story can be easily summarised thus far: I am the victim.
But then, presumed “victim” and “model/actress” Deniece Cornejo had her turn on the mike over Inquirer Radio 990AM on Monday where she revealed that Navarro “started it all” and appealed to the public to understand this: “If there is a victim here, that’s me…”
Strangely enough, no complaints have been filed by either “victims” with the police so far — not by Navarro nor by Cornejo.
“We need a complainant. Even if we file a case, it will not prosper in the court without a complainant. We are very willing to assist them,” [Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region (CIDG-NCR)] said.
Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas, PNP deputy chief for administration, said the Taguig police office has started its probe into the case to determine if the policemen who wrote the blotter report failed to comply with the police operational procedure.
“If there’s evidence that they violated police procedures, we will initiate appropriate actions against them,” Rojas said.
Asked about the PNP’s procedures in receiving complaint against arrested individuals, he said the policemen who saw Navarro’s condition should have brought him to the hospital after they received the complaint.
Interestingly, a third character in this sordid chain of events, Cedric Lee (who allegedly led the mauling of Navarro) has quite an interesting rap sheet…
We thought you should know that Cedric was also among the five people summoned by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the alleged beatdown and robbery of businessman David Bunevacz back in ’07. His name also came up after Katrina Halili and Hayden Kho’s sex video surfaced online in ’09. However, none of these allegations were proven.
With a guy as slippery as Cedric Lee involved, it is likely that the truth surrounding this case will never surface much less make it into police records.
Should the police remain involved even with no complaints so far filed? None of the parties claiming to be “victims” in this affair seem inclined to do so, for that matter. Indeed, in the overall scheme of things, with a humanitarian disaster unfolding in the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, a vast pork barrel thievery scandal rocking the very foundations of Philippine politics, and a staring match happening between the Philippines and China, “victims” of a shady “crime” who prefer face time on TV rather than work with the police to resolve their issues are really not that important.
But this is the Philippines, where the show must go on. A distracted mind is a happy mind. So, as we are always encouraged to do: Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
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