Actor Vhong Navarro and former pageant contestant Roxanne Cabanero. Composite image
MANILA - Atty. Lorna Kapunan said the date specified in Roxanne Cabanero's rape complaint against Vhong Navarro is clear, amid the denial of the former pageant contestant's camp that it mentioned April 24, 2010 as the date the alleged sexual assault took place.
Kapunan, who is not a representative of either party, was asked for her legal opinion on Cabanero's case in an interview on "Buzz ng Bayan" aired Sunday.
Cabanero's complaint-affidavit, which was filed at the Pasig City Prosecutor's Office last February 19, specifies that the alleged rape happened on "April 24, 2010, 11-pm to 1:AM" in "Pasig City, near Astoria Hotel."
She claimed that she met Navarro earlier on the same day when she and fellow contestants in Miss Bikini Philippines had a guest appearance on "It's Showtime," which the actor co-hosts.
Cabanero alleged that she was approached by a female staff member of the ABS-CBN show to ask for her number, supposedly on behalf of Navarro.
Cabanero said she exchanged text messages with Navarro to arrange their meeting and was allegedly fetched by the actor from Astoria hotel, where she claimed to have been staying for the duration of Miss Bikini Philippines. She said the actor then drove the car and parked it under a tree, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
"The rape [based on the complaint] happened during the incident inside the car," Kapunan said. "In the afternoon of the same date, eh. Afternoon 'yun, ang date ay April 24. So afternoon 'yung [message sa] cellphone saying allegedly ni Vhong Navarro na, 'Magkita tayo.' Tapos nagkita sila sa evening. So the same day—the same evening of the same date, April 24. Unless na sinasabi nila na it happened the next day. E hindi naman sinasabi dito."
Since Cabanero's rape complaint went public, several groups have gone on record to contradict details of the former pageant contestant's account of the alleged incident.
In an interview on "Buzz ng Bayan" aired last February 23, Astoria Plaza project director Ric Valenzuela denied it housed pageant contestants in April 2010. He said that while the event was offered to them, it did not push through.
Cabanero's legal counsel, Atty. Virgilio Batalla, admitted last Thursday his client erroneously mentioned a different hotel in her complaint-affidavit.
He explained that Miss Bikini Philippines supposedly originally announced to candidates that they would be billited at Astoria Plaza, before finally tapping Millenia Suites in Pasig for sponsorship in lodgings.
"Noong una, in-announce sa kanya… sa kanila na Astoria sila, pero somehow hindi natuloy," Batalla was quoted as saying by entertainment news site Philippine Entertainment Portal. "At noong hindi natuloy na 'yun, na lilipat pala sila sa Millenia Suites. At sa Millenia Suites, halos magkatabi 'yun, ang alam pa rin ng aking kliyente ay Astoria pa rin."
However, Millenia Suites, in an interview with ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual last Thursday, said that while it hosted Miss Bikini Philippines in April 2010, it was not on the 24th, as specified in Cabanero's complaint.
April 24, 2010 is also the date when Navarro was supposedly in Cavite as a guest performer in comedian Vice Ganda's concert -- a claim supported by the management of Island Cove in a February 23 interview.
Vice Ganda, whose real name is Jose Marie Viceral, made the same statement under oath last Wednesday. It will be used as evidence in Navarro's counter-affidavit, which will be submitted during the first preliminary investigation into the case on March 13.
The comedian earlier said the concert started at around 9 p.m. and ended at around midnight, adding that Navarro was among the last to go on stage as he was a special guest.
Asked when the alleged rape took place, if not on the date shown in the complaint, Batalla only said, "During the time of April 24, 25, 26, and 27."
Atty. Lorna Kapunan. File photo
According to Kapunan, there are cases when a rape victim's recollection of the incident is affected due to trauma. But even then, Kapunan said it is unlikely that important details such as the date of the incident can be forgotten easily by the victim.
"Puwedeng two sides 'yan eh. Kung totoong rape victim ka o traumatized, 'di mo na maaalala. Except that the other side is, 'di mo makakalimutan 'yung araw na ni-rape ka, 'di puwedeng papaplit-palit ka na, 'Ay, 'di pala ngayon, e another date,'" she said.
"There are material dates that you cannot forget. For instance, the date you were raped is very material to you na 'di mo puwedeng sabihing ay nagkamali ako ng date."
The lawyer added that Cabanero's camp can explain its supposed inconsistencies by proving that possible trauma caused her to mix up dates.
"Dapat patunayan nila ng Roxanne o ng lawyer niya na talagang traumatized siya. Puwede namang i-verify 'yon. Hindi lang naman siya ang mag-isa. 'Di ba meron siyang roommates kasi may beauty contest? So dapat vinerify muna nila. Dapat nag-verify sila ng mga dates.
"In fairness to Roxanne and the people who claimed that they may have been allegedly raped, pagbigyan naman natin, napakahirap na lumabas na ikaw ay na-rape. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt," she said.
Navarro's lawyer, Atty. Alma Mallonga, has said their camp will file cases of perjury and libel against Cabanero on the day of the preliminary investigation, in relation to her claims of sexual assault against the actor.