Atty. Dennis Manalo has resigned as the legal counsel of actor-host Vhong Navarro in connection to the cases filed against Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee and six others over the mauling incident in a condominium unit at The Fort last January 22.
The high-profile lawyer, however, explained that he and the other lawyers of Navarro have decided that Atty. Alma Mallonga will be the lead counsel from now on.
Clearing things out, Manalo insisted that pressure was not a factor in his decision to quit as the “It’s Showtime” host’s lawyer, but due to the high-profile cases he is currently handling.
Manalo is also being seen publicly as the lawyer of Ruby Tuason, one of the accused in the plunder cases in the pork barrel scam and Malampaya fund scam.
“Hindi na po ako magiging involved totally. I have already given my share in the investigative process. Nakalatag na yung ebidensiya and as far as the case is concern the matter will already go through formal process of the preliminary investigation,” he said in an interview with radio dzMM on Saturday.
“Magagaling po ang mga lawyers ni Mr. Vhong Navarro. Hindi na po nila kailangan ng isa pang Mr. Dennis Manalo para ma-prosecute yung kaso nila,” he added.
Navarro has filed six criminal charges against Lee, Cornejo and six others: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.
Cornejo, meanwhile, filed a rape case against Navarro. She claimed that the actor forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to insert his penis in her vagina on January 22, the night the group of Lee allegedly came to her rescue.
Navarro denied attempting to rape Cornejo and claimed that he was a victim of extortion. He said he was blindfolded and tied up before being attacked by at least six men, including Lee.
No longer with law firm linked to JPE
Meanwhile, Manalo also said he is no longer a member of the Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako law firm, which is linked to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Enrile served as a partner in the law firm from 1954 to 1966.
Manalo’s client Tuason has confirmed in her 15-page sworn statement that she received the commissions for Enrile as well as Senator Jinggoy Estrada and sometimes delivered the kickbacks personally to the two senators.
Estrada and Enrile are two of the respondents in the plunder and malversation complaints filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the pork barrel scam.
“I was a former partner sa Siguion-Reyna Law office. Right now ang engagement ko with Mrs. Ruby Tuason is in my own name not under the name of my former law office,” Manalo said.
New lawyer for Lee
Lee, on the other hand, sought a new legal counsel, Raymond Fortun, who has agreed to represent the businessman who is facing illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest, and blackmail charges filed by Navarro.
Accepting Lee’s case, Fortun made the announcement in his Facebook account and said he views Lee as an underdog.
“I love the underdog. I enjoy the good fight, and I relish handling the toughest cases. Lawyering for me has never been about the money. It’s about the pursuit for truth and justice, it’s about fairness and equality,” he said.