Spokesperson at hindi bilang legal counsel ang gagampanan ni Atty. Raymond Fortun para kay Cedric Lee, ang isa sa mga itinuturong suspek sa pambubugbog kay Vhong Navarro.
Ito ang nilinaw ng kilalang abugado nang eksklusibo siyang makausap ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), sa pamamagitan ng direct messaging sa Facebook, kaninang tanghali, February 7.
Lumabas ang usap-usapan na nagpalit na ng abugado si Cedric matapos mag-post si Atty. Fortun ng status sa Facebook kahapon, February 6.
Pero ayon kay Atty. Fortun, “My job is merely to speak on [Cedric’s] behalf before the media.
“This is something I am familiar with, having assumed this position in other high-profile cases in the past.
“The defences/arguments in court will be left to his current counsels.”
Ang kasalukuyang legal counsels ni Cedric ay sina Atty. Howard Calleja at Atty. Maria Concepcion Aquino.
Ayon kay Atty. Fortun, wala siyang anumang koneksiyon kay Cedric bago mangyari ang insidente ng pambubugbog kay Vhong Navarro noong gabi ng January 22.
Pero sinusundan daw niya ang mga balita tungkol dito simula nang lumabas ito sa publiko.
Dagdag pa ng abugado, “Since then, I have posted at least 2 articles in my Facebook account about my views on the issue.
“Cedric Lee contacted me last Sunday [2nd Feb], asking about my interest in being part of his legal team.
“I said I was okay with it, especially after what I felt was a highly questionable interview of a psychologist by a media network.
“I felt that it was too much of a ‘demonising’ of Mr. Lee which had no scientific basis.
“On 5th Feb, Cedric called me up again and informed me that he had made up his mind about my engagement as a ‘spokesman’ only and NOT as a lawyer. I agreed to his terms.”
THE EXPLANATION. Sa Facebook post ni Atty. Fortun, na pinamagatan niyang “The Tipping Point,” ipinaliwanag niya kung bakit nasa panig siya ngayon ni Cedric, na tinawag niyang “bad boy” sa artikulo.
Ito ay dahil umano sa ginawa ng Buzz ng Bayan kamakailan, kung saan isang body language expert ang nag-analyze sa isang panayam kay Cedric.
Ang Buzz Ng Bayan ang weekly showbiz-oriented show ng ABS-CBN.
Sabi ni Atty. Fortun, “That The Buzz [Buzz Ng Bayan] episode made me realise how a powerful media entity can use its unlimited resources in order to sway public opinion to demonize a person.
“This, as a lawyer dedicated to bring out the truth, I cannot accept.”
Inilarawan din ni Atty. Fortun si Cedric bilang “underdog.”
Ayon sa abugado, “Because of what this powerful media network and the NBI have done way beyond their respective duties to the public, Cedric Lee is, in my eyes, an underdog.
“Justice must be served, but it must not be in accordance with the conductor’s beat of someone along Panay Avenue.
“So I contribute my voice into this dispute NOT TO TWIST THE TRUTH but to make sense of the madness.”
Sa isa pang comment sa Facebook, sinabi ni Atty. Fortun: “My job is to separate the propaganda from the real issues, to distinguish the misrepresentations from the real truth.
“I will not tell people to stop prejudging because WE ALL HAVE. My engagement is precisely in reaction to the overboard demonizing of CL, way beyond the duty of the media network for fair and impartial reportage.
“Obviously, if this cases wasn’t blown up in the media AND tilted against CL, the latter would NOT look like an underdog.”
Sinubukan ng PEP na humingi ng reaksiyon mula sa pamunuan ng Buzz ng Bayan tungkol sa pahayag na ito ni Atty. Fortun.
Dalawang beses tinawagan PEP ang executive producer ng programa na si Nancy Yabut kaninang tanghal, ngunit hindi niya sinasagot ang aming tawag.
Mananatiling bukas ang PEP sa anumang reaksiyon na ipararating ng Buzz Ng Bayan tungkol dito.
“BIASED REPORTAGE.” Sa panayam ng PEP, sinabi ni Atty. Fortun na nakausap na niya si Cedric.
Tinanong ng PEP kung naniniwala siya sa mga naunang pahayag ni Cedric.
Tugon ni Atty. Fortun, “I have been informed of the WHOLE TRUTH by Cedric, and i have spoken to Deniece [over the phone] as well.
“The foundation of any lawyer-client relationship is informing the lawyer of the whole truth. That is all that matters.”
Gayunman, hindi muna nagbigay ng pahayag si Atty. Fortun sa mga susunod na hakbang ng kampo ni Cedric tungkol sa mga alegasyon ni Vhong.
Aniya, “I cannot give an assessment of the strengths or weakness of their case, as Cedric and Deniece have yet to submit their counter-affidavits.”
At dahil siya ang spokesperson at hindi legal counsel, sabi ni Atty. Fortun, “The defences/arguments in court will be left to his current counsels.”
Tinanong ng PEP kung ano ang reaksiyon ni Cedric sa mga lumalabas na balita ngayon laban sa kanya.
Sagot ng abugado, “Like anybody else, he is certainly concerned about public reaction, but he is hopeful that the truth will prevail.”
Sa parte naman ni Atty. Fortun, inaasahan niyang makakatanggap siya ng iba’t ibang reaksiyon mula sa publiko dahil sa pagpanig niya kay Cedric.
Aniya, “Being part of a high-profile case, it is expected that people would have their own opinions about issues and even their evaluation of existing or known facts.
“It is hoped that people would keep an open mind and not allow their perceptions swayed by biased reportage.”
APOLOGY. Sa kanyang Facebook post, humingi ng paumanhin si Atty. Fortun dahil hindi niya masusunod ang kanyang naunang ipinangako.
Sabi niya, “[I] apologise to all of you if you think that i have let you down.
“At the end of the day, i concede that i cannot please everyone, but my only comfort is that i can face my Maker with a straight face and tell Him that i had done my duty to Him and to my profession.”
Matatandaang noong Disyembre 2013, inihayag ni Atty. Fortun na handa siyang iwanan ang mga kasong kanyang hinahawakan matapos mabaril ang asawa niyang si Carole Fortun.
Sa tingin kasi ni Atty. Fortun na isang dahilan ang kanyang trabaho kaya nangyari ang insidente sa kanyang asawa.
Pero sa panayam ng PEP, sinabi ni Atty. Fortun na sinabihan daw siya ng asawa niya ng ganito: “Mamatay kung mamamatay. Just go and do your duty."
Ayon pa sa abugado, “She is much stronger and braver than I am, so I have no recourse but to just follow her wishes.
“On the other hand, i voluntarily went on leave of absence from my wedding photography work because of the dangers involved.”
Unang naging matunog ang pangalan ni Atty. Fortun nang makasama siya, at ang kanyang kapatid na si Atty. Sigrid Fortun, bilang miyembro ng defense panel para sa impeachment trial noon laban kay dating President Joseph Estrada.
Ang ilan pang personalidad na naging kliyente ni Atty. Fortun ay sina Kris Aquino, Dra. Vicki Belo, Claudine Barretto, Willy Revillame, at Zsa Zsa Padilla.
Kabilang din si Atty. Fortun sa legal counsels ng petitioners laban sa kontrobersyal na Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) ng administrasyong Aquino.