MANILA - "Defensive much?"
These were the words of Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Claudine Barretto's legal counsel, in addressing photos released by Raymart Santiago showing the actress with bandages on her face supposedly after a surgical procedure.
In a statement given to ABS-CBN News, Topacio referred to Santiago's move -- a reaction to the lawyer's earlier posts showing Barretto with facial bruises -- as "a case of much ado over nothing."
Last Sunday, Topacio took to Twitter to post three photos of Barretto with apparent contusions under her eyes, before and after applying makeup.
"We posted those pictures in response to insinuations that the scars on the legs of our client were of recent vintage, since older pictures of her were compared to her recent ones, which older pictures showed her without any scars on her legs," Topacio said in his statement.
The lawyer was referring to a post on a gossip blog which compared recent photos of Barretto to a photo taken last week showing the actress with several wounds on her thighs, among them burns supposedly from cigarette butts.
Calling herself a "battered wife," Barretto told reporters that the pictorial, where she exposed her scarred legs, was to help others in a similar situation to speak up.
Why post Claudine's photos?
Explaining why he later posted the photos of Barretto with bruises on her face, Topacio said: "We wished to emphasize the 'magic' of make-up skillfully applied, which can hide even the most horrific of imperfections."
"Claudine, being a celebrity, would certainly be loathe to parade her scars in public before, and would endeavor to hide them with the use of cosmetics. It's that simple," he said.
In the captions of the photos, Topacio referred to Barretto as "battered" and "black-and-blue," and in subsequent tweets, criticized those "who say maliciously that the wounds are a fabrication."
Topacio emphasized in his statement that there was no mention of Santiago's name when the photos were released, and questioned why the actor's camp felt the need to respond to the images going public.
"We did not impute the infliction of Ms. Claudine Barretto's injuries to Mr. Santiago. We mentioned no names. We did not accuse him of any crime," the lawyer said.
"So why the violent reaction? To use a colloquialism, 'defensive much?'"
Topacio: Raymart's reaction 'funny'
Responding to Topacio's posts on Twitter, Santiago's camp on Tuesday sent ABS-CBNnews.com a series of photos showing Barretto wearing a headgear with bandages on her cheeks. The photos, courtesy of the actor, were supposedly taken during Holy Week of 2010.
Photos courtesy of Raymart Santiago
Four photos show Barretto with Santiago and a number of friends, captioned: "Battered wife?!? Seriously...?!? …Amidst these happy faces…?!?! ...Who would believe such a lie?? …About one happy battered wife…???"
A fifth photo, a close-up of Barretto's facial bruises covered with bandages, had the caption: "Before applying make-up, first make sure that the wounds from the post-surgical procedure have healed so the bandage can be safely removed."
Photo courtesy of Raymart Santiago
According to Santiago's camp, Topacio's last photo of a "finished product" was taken before Barretto's live guesting on the entertainment talk show "Showbiz Central" in April 2010.
Topacio said the photos released by Santiago's camp "prove nothing."
"There is no showing that they were even taken on or about the same time as the pictures we posted. Perhaps Mr. Santiago should have consulted his lawyer before he posted them as to their lack of worth as evidence. Or maybe he did. LOL (laugh out loud)!"
Topacio, however, did not mention when the photos were taken.
He added: "What is even funnier is that they responded to an issue that was not even raised. Again, defensive much?"
In his statement, the lawyer also criticized the supposed "excuses" of Santiago's camp in reacting to the photos of a "battered" Barretto now making the rounds online.
"When Claudine first posted pictures on the net showing her with bruises, the other camp claimed they were make-up. Then they claimed they were self-inflicted. Now they're surgical scars. It seems they will never run out of excuses," he said.
Feud in court
Referring to the ongoing legal battle of the former couple, Topacio emphasized that Santiago "has been indicted for two counts of physical abuse against [Barretto]."
Barretto earlier accused Santiago of "physical, sexual, psychological and economic" abuse, supposedly dating back to 2002. These are detailed in her complaint against the actor for his alleged violation 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 -- 7-year-old Santino and 10-year-old Sabina -- in explaining why they took the spat to court, and why they are seeking sole custody of the kids.
"The Santiago camp," Topacio said, "should expend their energies in discharging Raymart's obligation to financially support his children, instead of engaging in a debate where there is none, and where his name is not even mentioned."
In June, the former couple appeared to have patched things up when Barretto posted a photo of her with Santiago and their kids. This, after they reached an agreement concerning their children through a judicial dispute resolution.
Last July 14, however, Barretto exclusively told ABS-CBN News that she was planning to pull out from the agreement and will sue Santiago for "economical abuse," supposedly because of his unwillingness to fulfill his financial obligations to their children, among other reasons.