THE Court of Appeals has directed the City Prosecutor of Taguig City to file rape by sexual intercourse and acts of lasciviousness charges against ABS-CBN television host and actor Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro.
In a 26-page decision penned by Associate Justice Florencio Mamauag Jr. dated July 21, 2022, the CA’s Fourteenth Division reversed and set aside the 2018 and 2020 resolutions of the Department of Justice dismissing the complaint filed by model Deniece Cornejo in 2014.
The appellate court held that its review of the complaint filed by Cornejo showed that all the elements of rape by sexual intercourse under paragraph (1) of Article 266-A are sufficiently alleged.
“Cornejo decries attempted rape on the night of January 22, 2014 while Navarro denies any wrongdoing. We reiterate once more that the preliminary investigation is not the proper venue on the respondent’s guilt or innocence,” the CA further said.
It added that it was “erroneous” for the DOJ to junk Cornejo’s petition for review of its assailed resolution on the ground that her statements in the complaint-affidavits are inconsistent and incredible.
“Cornejo’s claim that she initially managed to escape Navarro’s unwanted advances, but he caught up with her to further his perverse objective satisfies the element of force and intimidation. The element of carnal knowledge is likewise present when she sufficiently alleged that he successfully inserted his fingers in her vagina before proceeding to satiate his lust by forcing his penis in her vagina after she struggled with him as he mashed her breasts and tried to remove her shorts,” the CA noted.
The Court also took into consideration Navarro’s admission that he and Cornejo had consensual oral sex on January 17, 2014, an incident to which the latter denied giving consent to.
“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,” the CA said.
“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 added.
The CA further explained that the issue of credibility between the accuser and the accused should be left to the sound judgment of the court during the trial proper.
With regard to the January 22, 2014 incident, the CA held that Navarro may only be charged with acts of lasciviousness and not attempted rape.
The appellate court stressed that it would ultimately be up to the trial court to determine who between Navarro and Cornejo speaks the truth.
To recall, Cornejo has accused Navarro of two counts of rape by sexual intercourse and by sexual assault.
On her first complaint against Navarro, Cornejo said he pinned her down, and touched her private parts but when he was about to rape her, her friends arrived at her condominium unit in Taguig City on January 22, 2014.
Cornejo filed a second complaint dated February 27, 2014, against Navarro, accusing him of rape as she denied Navarro’s allegation that she consented to perform oral sex on him on January 17, 2014.
A third complaint was filed by Cornejo wherein she provided the DOJ with more details of the January 17, 2014, and January 22, 2014 incidents.
But, the DOJ in its assailed resolutions, said Cornejo’s accounts “suffers from a very serious credibility issue.”
“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. We reiterate once more that the preliminary investigation is not the proper venue to rule on the respondent’s guilt or innocence,” the CA explained.
“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,” it added.