Claudine Barretto's former personal assistant, Dessa Patilan, speaks with reporters shortly after being released from Marikina City Jail on Monday. ABS-CBN News
MANILA -- The former personal assistant accused by Claudine Barretto of robbing her was released from jail Monday, with the help of the former actress' estranged sister, Gretchen.
Nineteen-year-old Dessa Patilan, who stayed at the Marikina City Jail for 10 months, emotionally faced reporters upon her release and thanked Gretchen for posting the P60,000 bail.
"Salamat po sa kanya, dahil kahit ganito lang po ako, tumulong pa rin po siya sa akin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa pag-bail niya sa akin," she said.
When Patilan was asked for her message to Claudine, her legal counsel, Atty. Alma Mallonga, offered to share a recent a conversation she had with her client.
Mallonga said she had asked Patilan whether she is still angry with Claudine for putting her in jail.
Recalling her answer, a tearful Patilan said, "Dati po, meron [akong galit na naramdaman sa kanya]. Wala na po [ngayon]... Si God na po bahala sa kanya."
Patilan was imprisoned in May last year after being accused by Claudine of stealing from her a watch worth P1.8 million and several jewelry amounting to P8.5 million earlier that month.
Four months later in September, Patilan filed a countercharge against Claudine, who she also accused of theft in relation to the same incident in May.
In her complaint, Patilan demanded from her former employer P13,550 in damages, P50,000 in moral damages, P50,000 in exemplary damages, as well as the monetary cost for legal services.
Patilan enumerated the items supposedly stolen by Claudine before she was sent to jail: a wallet, which contained P10,700 she had received as salary; an electronic tablet, which costs P3,000; a memory card worth P500; and her phone sim card, which costs P50.
Why Gretchen helped
Estranged sisters Claudine and Gretchen Barretto. Composite image
Asked why Gretchen offered to post bail for Patilan, Mallonga on Monday said, "Because she thinks that doing the right thing is a good thing to do. 'Di ba, lahat sa atin, kung meron tayong paniniwala na meron tayong isang kabutihan na puwedeng gawin, gawin natin?"
"Actually we tried to have the bail reduced, pero medyo mahaba 'yung proseso. In any event, 'yung bail naman na 'yon, mababalik namin, e. So long as Dessa faces the charges, bumalik siya para harapin 'yung kaso, ['yung piyansa] ay parang pahiram lamang. Walang binibigay sa kanya, actually, pinapahiram lamang. At iyon ay confident kami, mababalik 'yung pera."
Referring to Patilan's ties with Gretchen, whose publicized with feud Claudine made headlines last year, Mallonga said their camp has always been forthcoming about the "Magkaribal" star's endorsement of the case to her.
"As I said, hindi ko naman inililihim na ang nagdala ng kaso sa akin at ang nakiusap kung puwedeng tingnan mo at kung puwedeng tulungan -- and we handled this pro bono -- was Gretchen," she said.
The lawyer added: "But I told Gretchen, noong umpisa pa lang, na, 'Alam mo, Gretchen, kahit mapawala namin iyan, kailangan niya ng tulong kung sino ang mag-aano ng piyansa sa kanya, for example.' And she said, 'Yes.'"
How Raymart is involved
Mallonga likewise, confirmed a statement by Claudine's legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, last year that the former actress' estranged husband, TV star Raymart Santiago, is also involved in Patilan's case.
"Noong nag-file kami ng application for bail, ang last witness namin ay si Raymart," Mallonga said. "And Raymart categorically testified na 'yung sinasabing ninakaw na relos ay na sa kanya all throughout. 'Yung mga jewelry, actually wala siyang alam na jewelry at may mga fake na jewelry."
"Nahirapan kami doon kasi nag-po-protest sila. Ayaw nila mag-testify si Raymart, but it's done. And the judge acted very swiftly," she added.
Santiago also has ongoing legal battle with Claudine, who accused him of "physical, sexual, psychological and economic" abuse.
In the actor's counter-affidavit responding to Claudine's allegations, Gretchen and two other Barretto siblings, JJ and Marjorie, alleged their youngest sister is mentally ill and has a history of drug abuse.
Patilan: I attempted suicide
On Monday, an emotional Patilan recalled feeling hopeless about getting out of jail, until she learned of Gretchen's effort to help her through Mallonga.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' Ginger Conejero, Patilan admitted that she attempted to commit suicide in October, but was stopped by fellow inmates.
"Dumating po 'yung time na 'yon na sobrang nandoon na po ako sa gilid, na parang wala na pong bukas. Iyon po 'yung nagtangka akong mag-ano sa sarili ko," Patilan said, as she gestured slashing her wrist.
"Para na pong bumabagsak ako, na hindi ko na po kaya, na wala na pong pag-asa. Buti nalang po, dumating po sila," she said.
Asked to clarify if she slashed her wrist in an attempt to take her life, Patilan nodded.
"'Yung mga kasama ko po [ang pumigil sa akin]. Sila na po ang gumamot sa akin," she said. "Lagi no po nila akong kinakausap, kasi simula po noong pumunta ako sa loob, hindi po ako nakikipag-usap, e. Nandoon lang po ako sa higaan ko."
According to Mallonga, Patilan is now orphaned and only has one sibling as her known family member. For now, the lawyer said Patilan will be staying at a center while she prepares to face the court cases she is involved in.
Noting her client earned a certificate in a massage course while in jail, Mallonga said, "We're looking forward na magkaroon siya ng productive na life ahead of her."
"Meron paring siyang hinaharap na kaso, ano, because she has just been set free on bail. But we are very confident about the case."