Claudine Barretto and Raymart Santiago face reporters together in 2012 at the height of the controversy surrounding their publicized fight with journalist Mon Tulfo. Now, the former couple find themselves on opposing sides in a bitter legal feud involving their children. ABS-CBN/File photo
'Let's go back to court battle'
MANILA - The ceasefire didn't last long.
No more than a month since they appeared to patch things up, former couple Claudine Barretto and Raymart Santiago may face each other in court again soon, this time over a new lawsuit the actress is threatening to file against her estranged husband.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' Ginger Conejero on Monday, Barretto said she is pulling out from a judicial dispute resolution (JDR) with Santiago concerning the custody of their two children, 6-year-old Santino and 10-year-old Sabina.
"Also, we're really working hard and really preparing the children to decide already kung kanino nila gusto mag-stay. Sila na mamili, kung saan nila gusto -- sa tatay nila o sa akin," she said.
Barretto mentioned three reasons why she arrived at the decision, and why she is planning to sue Santiago for "economical abuse."
The first reason, Barretto said, is Santiago's legal counsel, Atty. Ruth Castelo, who she criticized for making statements that supposedly ruined the chances of reconciliation between her and the actor.
"The reason why I said I was pulling out was -- number one -- because of his lady lawyer, kasi nga 'yung salita nang salita, ayos na lahat," she said. "We were under mediation na nga, eh, na sila ang humingi."
Barretto added: "Nag-usap kami when I told him about 'yung si lady lawyer niya na walang ibang ginagaw kundi... Gusto yatang sumikat, eh chakaness naman. I told him to tell her to back off and to shut up."
Last July 2, Barretto took to Instagram to address Castelo about supposedly stirring problems in her family. Barretto was referring to a statement by Castelo in response to the actress' legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, who claimed that she is "sabotaging" the efforts of both parties to end their feud.
Topacio earlier criticized Castelo for supposedly expressing doubt in Barretto's sincerity to invite Santiago to a dance recital of Sabina last May 29.
In her statement, Castelo stressed that all her earlier pronouncements in the media were with the consent or upon the instruction of Santiago.
Explaining why their camp doubted Barretto's invitation to watch Sabina's performance, Castelo said the actress made scathing allegations against Santiago three days after she made the invitation.
"Everything was okay," Barretto said, referring to the progress of the JDR. "I told him nga, eh, 'Sayang, we were at peace for two weeks. We had peace. And here comes your lawyer with her big mouth, talking again.' She destroys everything."
Barretto also criticized her husband for supposedly not being able to make his own decisions regarding their legal spat.
"Si Raymart kasi walang sariling desisyon at isip 'yan, eh. Walang sariling prinsipyo. Wala kasi siyang sariling utak. Kung ano na lang sabihin ng iba, doon nalang siya makikinig. Pero 'yung sabihin mong desisyon talaga ni Raymart? Hindi niya kayang mag-isip ng gano'n," she said.
Raymart as 'absentee father'
The second reason why she is pulling out of the JDR, according to Barretto, is Santiago's supposed absence from affairs involving their children.
"Magulo na naman siyang kausap. He's nowhere to be found. The children needed him, and obviously he wasn't there," Barretto said. "Alam naman niya 'yung mga cellphone numbers nila. Hindi mag-check man lang, mag-hi, 'How are you?' Wala."
Barretto explained that Sabina belatedly celebrated her birthday with a party, but Santiago did not attend the event. The party was held last July 12, three weeks after Sabina's actual birthday last June 21.
"We celebrated later, kasi bagong pasukan lang 'yan, so bagong mga classmates. Para maging ano muna sila... At least, 'di ba? So ginagawa namin, July lagi, sila ni Santino. Last, last year, sabay. This time, solo-solo.
"And instead of him (Santiago) being at the party, he was skydiving. Alam naman niya kasi nakikita niya sa Instagram 'yung ano... And wala. Walang anything," Barretto said.
Asked if Santiago was able to spend time with Sabina on her actual birthday, the actress answered: "He was able to visit naman. 'Yun lang. Iyon na 'yon."
Barretto said she is no longer counting on Santiago to be present during Santino's upcoming birthday party. Santino will turn 7 on July 19, a day before his parents' birthday. Barretto was born on July 20, 1979, while Santiago was born on the same date in 1973.
According to Barretto, Santiago also does not appear concerned for the welfare of his children. Barretto alleged that her husband did not reach out immediately even after her camp supposedly informed him of the condition of Sabina, who had to be given anti-tetanus and anti-rabies shots after she was bitten by a classmate.
"What happened was pinaalam ko through 'yung [personal assistant] ko, si Sol, pinatawagan namin kay Raymart. Hindi sumasagot. Pina-text namin, ganyan-ganyan," she said.
Noting Sabina was bitten last July 6 or 7, Barretto claimed Santiago only asked for updates about his daughter's condition last Sunday. "Although ina-update siya every day na we're on the third shot already ng anti-rabies. Wala talaga siyang pakialam," she said.
Suing Raymart anew
The final reason why she is no long pursuing the JDR, and why she has decided to file a case against Santiago for economical abuse is the actor's supposed unwillingness to make peace and fulfill his financial obligation to his children.
"Magde-demanda kami ng economical abuse. He doesn't want to stop and he doesn't want to help. He doesn't want peace. I don't know why he doesn't want peace. So, sige, let's just give him what he wants na lang."
"I told him, 'Let's give our children what's due our children.' He doesn't want to, so I can't force him anymore. I cannot naman talagang... Hindi naman ako 'yung tipong pipilitan ko siya. Hayaan nalang natin 'yung court [magdesisyon]," she said.
Barretto added: "Kasi ang laki-laki ng utang pa niya at ang laki-laki ng nakuha niya. Bayaran na lang niya 'yon. Sa mga anak naman niya 'yon, eh."
The actress emphasized, however, that her demand for Santiago to financially support their children has nothing to do with her own finances.
"It doesn't matter whether I have money or not, whether I have work or not. Ang akin, responsibilidad mo 'yan, ke may pera ako o wala, you give your children what's due them. Iyon 'yung akin. Pinasok mo 'yan, be responsible enough.
"Hindi 'yung birthday ng anak mo, nag-sa-skydiving ka. Baka hindi na magbukas 'yung parachute. Nakakatakot 'yon, 'diba," she said.
Barretto earlier accused Santiago of "physical, sexual, psychological and economic" abuse, supposedly dating back to 2002. These are detailed in her legal complaint against the actor for his alleged violation of of the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Santiago also alleged that he was a victim of domestic violence. In his complaint, the actor accused his wife of being mentally ill and having a history of drug abuse, claims backed by the actress' estranged siblings Gretchen, Marjorie, and JJ.
Both Barretto and Santiago have repeatedly mentioned the welfare of their children in explaining why they took the spat to court, and why they are seeking sole custody of the kids.