Connecting the dots in the Vhong Navarro case

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok January 30,2014 - 12:21 PM

When TV host and comedian Vhong Navarro came out to tell all what happened to him at the hands of 6 men who mauled him black and blue last January 22, the media immediately swirled around him and the personalities involved in the mauling incident which, according to reports, was but a ploy to extort money from the TV celebrity.

The all-out feeding frenzy by media organizations led some of friends of mine to lament that had Vhong Navarro been a nonentity, the incident would not merit mention in broadcast news or newspaper articles.

One journalist bewailed the national fixation on celebs in general, and Vhong in particular, saying that had the same level of consciousness or sensitivity to people’s lives been given to media practitioners who were killed in the line of duty, our country would be a safer place to live in. Indeed, had showbiz denizens like Vhong and their fans been more concerned about what is going on in the country today, senseless killings, violent crimes and the culture of impunity would have abated.

Overnight, Vhong and the female named Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee became trending topics in the internet. Because Vhong is in the ABS-CBN stable, competition among major news organizations became even more intense.

To recall, ABS-CBN based its reports on the statements of Navarro’s manager, Chito Roño who rejected the police blotter in which the TV host had practically owned up to the purported crime of rape. On the other hand, the competition gave significance to the police blotter. After reports pointed to the document as a likely instrument for extortion, GMA 7 explained it had no malice in citing the police blotter in its coverage.

With Vhong Navarro on one hand, and Deniece Cornejo and Cedric Lee on the other hurling accusations against each other, the case according to GMA news anchor Jessica Soho, is a “he said, she said” story. In the same breath, the credible news anchor emphasized, “The truth is still out there.”

I’m not sure if Ms. Soho refers to feedback from the social media, because the reactions by readers of online news can be very shocking although they don’t get published.

For instance, some online reactions said that perhaps expatriates including their children who also figured in the same situation might now gain justice. There is a lot of talk about extortion syndicates preying on hapless celebrities and scions of wealthy families, who would rather come across rather than be paraded in the media for some sexual indiscretion.

The point is, the issues being raised in the social media may just be the dots that will connect the Vhong Navarro case.

* * *

Last week, the Catholic movement known as Bukas Loob sa Diyos (BLD) lost two of its most zealous members. I’m referring to my friend and fellow BLD, Atty. Ricarte “Ric” Maderazo who passed away last January 19. Two days after, the BLD mourned the death of Dr. Jun Cui.

Two days before Ric’s interment, his friends paid him tribute by sharing their memories of the mild-mannered lawyer and businessman.

One of the touching eulogies was offered by Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap, a classmate of Ric’s in the College of Law of the University of San Carlos.

Justice Yap is the famous judge who convicted nine Chinese nationals and two Filipinos for manufacturing illegal drugs in the famous mega shabu laboratory case. She is now the Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (23rd division) in Cagayan de Oro City.

Justice Yap recalled that Ric was not bombastic with words, but was a diligent student who was known to highlight pages of textbooks and notebooks. As fate would have it, Marilyn Lagura treaded the government service path, while Ric slugged it out as a legal practitioner. They would cross paths every now and then, but the one thing that Justice Yap remembers is Ric’s penchant for highlighting his notes even in the courtroom, a carryover of a habit from their student days.

For the lady judge, the habit bespeaks only of the lawyer’s professional diligence in preparing before the court. The highlighted portions of the documents didn’t escape the observant Justice Lagura-Yap. She emphasized that in life, Ric always came well-prepared.

Ric had an epiphany, in the words of Justice Lagura-Yap, which saw his spiritual conversion and transformation from a man of the world to a zealous and faithful disciple in the BLD community. His colleagues in the Catholic movement remember his dedicated work in evangelization and in that sense, Justice Yap summed up her tribute to Ric by saying he also came well-prepared for the last judgement.

My deepest sympathies go to the BLD community, especially to Wilma Maderazo and Aina Cui, widows of Ric and Jun respectively.

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