Vhong Navarro did not enter a plea before the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 69 during his arraignment for the 2014 rape case filed by model Deniece Cornejo.
An arraignment is the first-time gathering wherein a defendant appears in court to hear the charges against them and submit a plea of guilty or not guilty. Among the attendees of the arraignment are the concerned parties and their legal teams.
Navarro attended the arraignment via video conference while his lawyer, Alma Mallonga attended in person. Deniece was also represented by her legal team.
Navarro's camp requested to attend the arraignment via video conference due to several reasons, such as the distance of his stay in the National Bureau of Investigation Detention Center in Manila to the Taguig RTC.
The camp also said that the actor is considered "high risk" in terms of security because of the public nature of the case.
During the arraignment, Navarro’s legal counsel neither pleaded guilty nor not guilty to the case. As a result, the court filed a "not guilty" plea on his behalf, as stated under court rules. A bail hearing is set on October 13.
"For the reasons stated in our petition for review which I will not discuss, we thought it more prudent not to allow Mr. Vhong Navarro to enter a plea,” Navarro’s legal counsel Alma Mallonga said to the media after the arraignment.
"Under the rules, therefore, the court entered a plea of not guilty. That is what happened," she said.
Navarro's resurfaced case is from the acts of lasciviousness warrant from the 2014 rape case filed by Cornejo, which alleged the actor of raping the model in her Taguig condominium on January 22 of the same year. She also later claimed that Navarro raped her on January 17.
Judge Angela Din of Taguig Branch 116 ordered Navarro's arrest this year as she found probable cause to hold him for trial for acts of lasciviousness. He later posted P36,000 bail for the case.
A warrant of arrest for Navarro was then issued by Taguig City RTC Judge Loralie Cruz Datahan for rape, which is a non-bailable offense unless the court allows it if the evidence is deemed weak.
Navarro's camp had shared that they were shocked when the case resurfaced this 2022 and promptly filed a motion for reconsideration.
However, the Court of Appeals chose to stand by its decision on ordering the Department of Justice to file the two charges against Vhong Navarro.
He is currently being detained in the Manila NBI Detention Center since surrendering on Sept. 19.