Given the picture emerging so far, lead goon Cedric Lee and his squeeze starlet Deniece Cornejo are toast. There is no way the rape allegations lobbed by Cornejo against Vhong Navarro could hold water. CCTV footage analysed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had shown that Cornejo had left her condo within a minute of Navarro’s arrival and that Cedric Lee and his goon squad (which included his sister, it seems) arrived within a minute of that.
The NBI had done their job well and made good on their promise to mount an impartial probe on the incident though it warrants a note that Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima made that promise on behalf of the bureau. To that I give De Lima credit considering the special circumstances surrounding the case…
De Lima made the statement after reports said businessman Cedric Lee, the leader of the group that mauled Navarro, has backers even in the NBI.
“As in any probe that we undertake, I will make sure that the NBI’s probe will be impartial and credible. I will also look into Cedric Lee’s alleged connections to certain NBI officials, past or present,” she said in a text message.
Of the NBI, a friend of mine quipped after noting its uncharacteristic speediness in the manner with which it came up with these findings: “Takot lang nila kay De Lima”.
Indeed it seems 2014 will be a good year for De Lima. After several years of frustrated attempts to prosecute high-profile crooks under the watch of Mr Daang Matuwid himself, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III, she may finally get her man this time. Now that the proper complaints have been lodged, key evidence analysed, and clarity established on the basis of what seem to be unassailable facts, the road to the prosecution and possible conviction of Lee, Cornejo, and party has been paved. A high-profile conviction of a violent thug with possible underworld connections and a much-reviled starlet involved in a case that has transfixed an entire nation can only be good for the embattled Second Aquino Administration which has long struggled to make good on its “straight-and-narrow” campaign promise.
It should be noted, however, that many elements contributed to making this circus work in Malacanang’s favour:
(1) Navarro, the “victim”, is a valued cash cow of Malacanang-controlled media Goliath ABS-CBN and, as such, enjoyed what seemingly turned out to be a highly-effective strategic angelisation campaign mounted by his employer.
(2) Unlike some senators embroiled in the pork barrel scam, Cedric Lee lacked connections high enough in the food chain to save his hide. As such, he became Malacanang’s Holy Grail — an expendable and, likely, guilty Fall Guy.
(3) And unlike Kris Aquino and Sharon Cuneta, the hapless starlet Deniece Cornejo despite her looks and youth failed to capture the sympathies of the Filipino public and instead attracted their wrath as evident in the vicious attacks her Facebook page copped.
Perhaps the way this script played out is how Malacanang would have wanted the Janet Lim Napoles circus to turn out. Too bad for President BS Aquino it didn’t. But this seemingly impending public relations win (if they go the whole nine yards in nailing Lee to the wall), small-time as it may be, is just the reprieve Malacanang needs to keep the public hooked on its daang matuwid rhetoric while it shores up an image tattered by the tell-all privilege speeches of pork-stained Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.
* * *
The latest haka-haka is that Cornejo, Lee’s kept woman, got a bit frisky with Navarro on their first “date” (presumably organised behind Cedric’s back). But then she may have been caught by Lee texting the lovey-dovey with Navarro. And so the condition (lest she lose the posh condo and the perks showered upon her by Lee) was that she lure back Navarro for a second “date” whereupon he would get roughed up a bit by Lee and his crew to teach him a “lesson”. Given Lee’s reported history of violence (thanks to ex wife Vina Morales’s “contribution” to this circus) it is not much of a stretch of the imagination to, well, imagine a jealousy-fuelled Lee losing control and taking the roughing up a bit too far.
But don’t quote me on that.
Best recourse for now: Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
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