Justifying the Exuberant Interest in the Vhong Navarro Mauling Incident (Part 2 of 2)

by Bernadine Racoma, originally posted at Philippine Online Chronicles/Blog Watch

Continued from Part 1

PNP Reform

vhong navarro 2Another good consequence of the Vhong Navarro incident is the PNP’s decision to adopt a new blotter protocol. Now, a good number of the population should have had some idea of what a blotter is and how it should be done – or at least know that such a system exists and should be properly undertaken.

It’s unfortunate for those “Vhong blotter” policemen to have been relieved but some example has to be set to show that the PNP is serious in its reform efforts. Those policemen have to be investigated to explore the possibility of their links to Cedric Lee. However, if they are proven clean, we should be a little lenient on them. Despite the fact that the failed to follow protocol, it’s not really unusual for police officials to just let some incident slide off.

Think about it this way. They saw a beat-up man accused of an attempted rape, observed how the “victim” was no longer willing to pursue a case, and noticed how the supposed “sex offender” looked remorseful and sorry. They may have thought that the beating was enough punishment and sympathized with Navarro on the possible impact of the incident on the actor’s character. It’s just a typical Filipino being empathetic. We reckon Deniece Cornejo didn’t look too distraught, in the same way she looked completely okay on the CCTV footages and on her interviews, at that time so the police may have taken that as a sign of forgiveness. Besides, it was clear that both parties agreed not to talk about the incident.

It’s the policemen’s indulgence and malice that brought them to their sorry situation. If they did not grant any interview discussing the blotter and the whole incident that was supposed to be kept secret by both parties, they wouldn’t be suffering the situation they are in now. Worse, they did more interviews seemingly supporting Deniece Cornejo’s story about the blotter in an attempt to justify their actions.

Shedding Light on Serious Illegal Detention

In terms of legal knowledge, the Vhong Navarro incident also offers something worth having. After the incident, the public should try understanding the offense of “serious illegal detention” more seriously. Two points: it is non-bailable offense and it is probably not what you think it is.

Why was Cedric Lee’s case serious illegal detention? Wasn’t his situation just serious physical injuries? How was he “detained” when the incident only took a few minutes? Do minutes suffice for a detention case?

These are the points the public should remember. Serious illegal detention is not just about keeping someone captive for a long time and inflicting serious injuries on the victim. If you are one of those who defend Cedric Lee on why he is being charged with serious legal detention, please realize that it is not enough to simply read the legal provisions regarding serious illegal detention.

The legal provisions are as follows:

“Art. 267.         Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. — Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death:

“1.         If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than five days.

“2.         If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.

“3.         If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained, or if threats to kill him shall have been made.

“4.         If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, female or a public officer.

“The penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person, even if none of the circumstances above mentioned were present in the commission of the offense.”

If you are a non-lawyer reading these provisions, you would likely think that Navarro’s case does not qualify as a form of serious illegal detention. However, if you refer to annotated texts, you will find out that the incident indeed qualifies as a form of serious illegal detention.

From the official website of Dr. Jovito R. Salonga Center for Law and Development, serious illegal detention is defined as follows:

“The crime is committed when a private individual, not any of the parents of the victim, unlawfully kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner depriving the latter of his liberty, and that any of the following circumstances is present:

     That the kidnapping or detention lasts for more than 3 days; or

     That it is committed simulating public authority; or

     That any serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the victim or threats to kill him are made; or

     That the victim is a minor, female or a public officer.”

That’s according to people who studied the laws of the Philippines. That’s more than what directly reading legal provisions would make you think.

So if you ever think of seriously beating and threatening someone, even just for a couple of minutes, you can face the consequences of a serious illegal detention case, especially if you are attacking a female, a minor, or a public officer. Yes, including a public officer! So keep your calm and exercise restraint in trying to beat those PDAF senators lest you run the risk of going to jail without the temporary liberty afforded by a bail.

The Birth of New Jokes

On the lighter side, Vhong Navarro’s mauling and the subsequent exchange of allegations also yielded something to tickle the public. If you are tired of all the “comedy bar” jokes you see Vice Ganda and his gang doing on TV, thank the Vhong Navarro incident for the new jokes. Who wants to try the Deniece Cornejo rapand dance number?

Deniece Cornejo’s awkward interview with Startalk also generated a multitude of memes and allowed Vice Ganda to come up with a funny spoof to entertain his audience on Showtime. Facebook and Twitter have also been filled with a variety of parodies, jokes, and funny pictures. Vhong Navarro’s “panda face” after getting mauled admittedly looks grin-inducing. All the mauling and rape accusation drama and humor are making Pinoy TV less irksome after the angering government problems have been temporarily concealed.

We should be back to normal in a few days. While Vhong’s case had been quite a distraction, it left a few lessons and realizations we can’t regret having. The incidental jokes have also been entertaining. If you are still complaining about the excess of media coverage, nobody’s really forcing you to tune in to a program that keeps presenting and discussing the topic so pity yourself and get out of your self-inflicted torture.

 

Screencap from Youtube. Some rights reserved.

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Blog Watch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for their story on “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

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