The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday imposed a P5,000 fine on the security agency of a ritzy condominium in Taguig City, where TV host-actor Vhong Navarro was beaten up by the group of businessman Cedric Lee, for its failure to report the incident to the police.
United Megaforce Security Services Inc. may also lose its license to operate if it is found to have committed major lapses, according to Chief Insp. Sonny Celedio, administrative officer of the PNP Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agency (SOSIA).
The PNP imposed the penalty after SOSIA—the police unit tasked to supervise private security agencies—summoned officials of United Megaforce to shed light on the Jan. 22 incident involving Navarro, Lee and model Deniece Cornejo who had accused the TV host of rape.
Lee—a friend of Cornejo—said he walked into her Forbeswood Heights condominium unit and caught Navarro raping her, prompting him and his companions to beat him up. The actor, on the other hand, claimed that it was all a setup so that Lee could extort money from him.
‘They are at fault’
“We were wondering why they [did not report the mauling immediately]. For that alone, they are at fault. That’s why we are penalizing them,” Celedio told reporters.
He said the security agency should have informed the nearest police station of the incident within 24 hours after it happened as required by SOSIA’s existing policy.
Condo owner’s orders
Wilfredo Molles, the security agency’s operation manager, however, explained that they merely complied with the order of Forbeswood management not to report Navarro’s mauling to the police.
“We can’t do anything but obey the instructions of our client,” Molles told reporters.
But Celedio said United Megaforce should not use the building owner’s order as an excuse. Instead, officials of the security agency should have told their client that they were required to report the incident to the PNP, he added.
“Our authority is limited only to the private security agencies and their personnel. That’s why we are telling the security agencies to remind their clients that there are policies which they are bound to respect,” Celedio said.
At the same time, he warned that “if a similar incident [happened] and they kept it from the police, we will penalize them.”
According to him, SOSIA’s investigating unit was ordered to submit a report of its probe of the incident within the week. Depending on the gravity of the security agency’s violations, it may revoke the license it granted to United Megaforce.
Meanwhile, a Department of Justice (DOJ) panel tasked to conduct a preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Navarro against Lee, Cornejo and six others will also hear the model’s rape complaint against the TV host.
2 cases consolidated
This was after the DOJ consolidated the two cases on Monday “considering that the complaints… arose from one and the same incident” and are “founded on the same factual and legal issues involving the same parties.”
“The City Prosecutor of Taguig is hereby directed to transmit the entire records of the complaint of Deniece Millinette Cornejo to the DOJ panel of prosecutors immediately upon receipt thereof,” DOJ Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said in his order. With Christine O. Avendano