In late January 2014, Filipinos worldwide were drawn to the story of the then thirty-six year old local comedian, Vhong Navarro, who was severely beaten by a group of men. He won the sympathy of many as he faced the camera, face all swollen and deeply bruised, relaying his version of the event. He said he was beaten as part of a scheme to extort by a group using a young woman, Deniece Cornejo, as a lure. The main man who beat him up, Cedric Lee, contended in a subsequent TV interview that the beating was an impulsive reaction because he walked into Cornejo’s room as Navarro was in the act of raping Cornejo. In the subsequent investigation, however, a CCTV footage of the crime scene showed that Navarro’s version of the night of the beating was closer to the truth.
I launched this blog on February 13, 2014 to chime in on the animated discourse regarding the credibility of the people involved and the validity of the legal arguments filtering through media appearances of their attorneys. Both sides have filed criminal charges against each other, rape against Navarro and serious illegal detention, among others, against Lee, Cornejo, and the rest of the people present at the beating.
My position on the matter moved according to new information as they unfolded. In the process, I have become familiar with Philippine rape laws and jurisprudence on rape and sexual violence cases. It also exposed me to the cultural and societal attitudes that Filipinos hold about women, in general, and those who cry rape. The journey has indirectly led me to a much broader issue I’d like to explore more through this blog, the issue of women’s rights and women empowerment.
The beating of Vhong Navarro gave rise to a number of criminal cases where he stands as an alleged victim and the accused. Those cases are ongoing, but this blog is moving on. I have unpublished all posts from 2014 and will re-publish them as they become relevant to this exploration of issues that affect women worldwide.