Culture Spotlight

Kris finally shows up to file counter-affidavit: “Let this not be a trial by publicity”

Kris Aquino calls the suit filed against her by the Falcis brothers as “nothing more than a poorly-crafted ruse” with “no other legitimate purpose than to harass me and gain leverage.”
Bam Abellon | Feb 23 2019

Three black, heavily-tinted sport utility vehicles in a convoy made their way to the drop-off point of the newer Hall of Justice building in Quezon City Friday afternoon. At around 1:15 PM, the first car’s passenger door opened and out came Kris Aquino, online media personality. “I’m here,” she declared to onlookers and the media already swarming the building entrance. Aquino’s smile—which barely diminished nor altered throughout the whole afternoon—was her most obvious accessory next to the strands of pearls that decorated her ears and neck. She was wearing a striped, body-conscious knit dress; her hair as immaculately polished as any of her black SUVs.

Kris’s personal assistant Jack Salvador waiting for his Madam to come out of of her SUV.

Kris’s entourage included her sons, Bimby and Josh, her sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, her nephew Jiggy Cruz, her assistant Jack Salvador, her lawyers from DivinaLaw, and her bodyguards. Today’s agenda: to file a counter-affidavit on the grave threats complaint filed against Aquino by Nicardo “Nicko” Falcis, former managing director of her Kris Cojuangco Aquino Productions (KCAP), and Jesus “Jess” Falcis, Nicko’s brother and lawyer. The preliminary investigation was originally scheduled on February 8.

Before the Kris camp entered the building.

The grave threats complaint from the Falcis camp follows the 44 counts of Qualified Theft and Violation of Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 filed by Kris against Nicko, on October 12, 2018. She filed in seven different cities. Aquino also filed nine counts of cyber libel charges against Atty. Jess on November 22, 2018. 

At the entrance to the fiscal’s office, Atty. Regidor A. Ponferrada of Ponferrada Ty Offices, lawyer of the Falcises, was already waiting for the proceedings to begin. When the Aquino camp finally arrived, Kris, upon seeing Atty. Ponferrada, asked son Josh, “Kuya, say hi to the attorney, who doesn’t like you.” Josh, smiling, extended his hand. Atty. Ponferrada acknowledged the gesture.

“Straighten up, Kuya. Kuya, don’t slouch,” she asked of Josh before he left the room.

Jiggy Cruz with Kris’s son Josh.

A few minutes later, Atty. Ponferrada and Kris’s team entered Atty. Rolando’s office. A slew of camera flashes filled the entire space, and murmurs were heard. A Hall of Justice employee loudly pleaded, “Hay naku, masisira na aming opisina, please! Please respect the office.” The media were asked to leave. For a few minutes, there was silence inside the fiscal room where only those who needed to be there were present.

As media waited outside, some fans were having their photos taken with Josh.

Ballsy Aquino Cruz accompanied her sister to Friday’s filing of counter affidavit.

 

“Mere afterthought”

Shortly after the proceedings, ANCX received a copy of the counter-affidavit, sent through email by Atty. Mikko Axalan of DivinaLaw. The 10-page document answers the allegations of the Falcis brothers against Kris, and it primarily states that Kris vehemently denies the criminal charge against her.

Atty. Mikko Axalan (in white) and Atty. Eloisa DV. Sy (leftmost), both from DivinaLaw and in between them is Klinton Torralba.

It also states: “The instant suit is nothing more than a poorly-crafted ruse calculated to thwart” the cases filed by Kris against the brothers, adding “the instant case clearly has no other legitimate purpose than to harass me and gain leverage in the said cases.”

The next articles of the counter-affidavit explain how the charge against Kris “must fail.” 

Article 5 states that the grave threats complaint is a “mere afterthought.” It reiterates what Kris has been mentioning in her interviews and social media posts: that “both Nicko and Atty. Falcis were silent about it for a long time.”

According to the counter-affidavit, Kris allegedly threatened Nicko on September 27, 2018, yet the Falcis brothers filed the grave threats complaint “only four months after the alleged threat.” It also mentions that Atty. Jess is a “member of the legal profession,” who “portrays himself to the public as an advocate of human rights,” and “hosts a radio show.” According to the counter-affidavit, he “could have personally reported the matter to the police,” filed a case against Kris, or “used his radio show or blogs to expose” the alleged crime.

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Kris grants a quick interview with the press after her appearance in the fiscal’s office.

A big chunk of the counter-affidavit explains how the pieces of evidence presented by the complainants is “inadmissible.” The evidence is principally connected to the alleged audio recording between Nicko and Kris. The counter-affidavit adds that the “purported audio recording, which if truly in existence” was “unlawfully” taken without the knowledge or consent of Kris. Therefore, “the alleged threatening statements cannot be used as evidence in this proceeding.”

Furthermore, the counter-affidavit questions the involvement of Atty. Jess in the case, whom Kris, as is written, “never talked to” or “discussed anything about” during her conversation with Nicko on that day. It adds, “It is thus odd that Atty. Falcis included himself as a complainant in this case.”

In the latter part of the counter-affidavit, the accused states that the claims written on the complaint-affidavit is “contrary to common sense and human experience.” The next statement demonstrates this assertion.

When Kris spoke to Nicko on September 27, he was in Bangkok, Thailand. The counter-affidavit reasons, “It was, therefore, implausible for him to fear for his life, since I only used words and we were [approximately] 1,371.99 miles apart then. If he really felt threatened and feared for his life, he would not have returned to the Philippines, or he would, at least, secretly do so.” This part of the argument ends with these words, “Their acts are patently inconsistent with that of a person threated. No individual in his right mind would publicly challenge the very person he is afraid of.”  

The counter-affidavit also reacts to the alleged text message of Kris for Nicko, where Kris supposedly implied a threat to Nicko’s life by showing the businessman his travel records. The counter-affidavit states that the supposed text message “does not directly establish their [Falcis brothers] claim as it simply indicates a series of flights, and nothing more.”

On the tenth page of the counter-affidavit, the accused states that during the conversation with Nicko on September 27, 2018, she had just found out that her serious medical condition “could have been” caused by the issues that she and Nicko were facing. Given the circumstances, and “even assuming” that she uttered the alleged statements, “those statements were mere expressions of anger and frustration.” If there was indeed a threat, she says in the affidavit, “it was more of a threat of legal action or imprisonment.”

“I am executing this Counter-Affidavit to refute the allegations against me and to cause the immediate dismissal of this case.”

The document was signed by Kristina Bernadette C. Aquino and SACP Rolando G. Ramirez.

“I had hoped na finally maghaharap na kami, e, wala sila.”

The whole proceeding inside the closed-door preliminary investigation took less than fifteen minutes. As Kris made her way out of Atty. Rolando’s office, she was met by her youngest, Bimby, who was now with his brother. Kris told the reporters awaiting her statement, “Okay, isang mabilis lang.”

A reporter asked how she prepared for this day.

“Nagtrabaho ako before coming here,” she answered. “Meron muna akong event, but I had carefully gone through all the papers that were given to me para basahin ko. And as you can see, sinama ko ’yong dalawang anak ko, and my ate also accompanied me today. Because I had hoped na finally maghaharap na kami, e, wala sila.” Before arriving at the Hall of Justice, Kris was at The Podium mall to attend an event as an endorser for a Japanese home brand. According to our source, during the event, she refused to talk about the case and only spoke about the brand.

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Kris introduces son Josh to Falcis lawyer as they enter the fiscal’s office.

Kris was then asked to explain further the counter-affidavit she had just filed. At this point, she called on one of the DivinaLaw counsels, Atty. Eloisa DV. Sy.

“There’s no truth to the allegations against our client,” Atty. Eloisa said. “Whatever harsh—if you may consider it harsh words—that were said, were said in the heat of passion. She was very angry, because at the time [of] the conversation, our client was demanding an accounting for the money that was given to him [Nicko] to invest. And it seems that no accounting was forthcoming, so the anger directly at him by our client, was, I believe, justified.”

Kris, who was listening intently, then asked, “May I just put everything in its proper context?”

In measured words, she discussed at length her contentions, many of which were already articulated on her social media accounts. She said that her reaction was “normal,” given that it was the day she got her medical results. “It was a very emotional moment for me. I think lahat ng nanay, at pati tatay siguro maiintindihan na pag nakita mo na umiiyak na ’yong mga anak mo, lahat ng galit mo lalabas talaga.” She reiterated how she was physically well before her issues with Nicko started haunting her.

Three days after the September 27 conversation with Nicko, she said, she flew to Singapore.  “I don’t think what I went through was something mild because di ka lilipad nang gano’n kabilis. And kung ilang beses na kasi akong inakusahan na inaarte ko lahat ito. I don’t think dalawang beses akong lilipad sa Singapore, at every quarter kailangan kong pumunta doon. At hindi ko siguro titiisin na more than 22 pieces of medicine every day ang iniinom ko just for me to stay healthy, as healthy as possible. Because what I have has no cure and they don’t even know the extent of what I have because I have tried to keep all those details private. But my sons know and my sisters know.”

Throughout this rhetoric, she oftentimes looked grave, closing her eyes and twisting her head to one side. She did so while expressing another concern: “The problem is this is not a fight that should be done over social media. Because I have tried my very best na manahimik ako because I know kung labanan lang ’to ng followers, hindi hamak, I have 4 million [followers] more than they do—and that’s only on one social media account.” As of press time, Kris has 4 million followers on Instagram, 1.6 million followers on Twitter, and more than 1.7 million followers on Facebook account. The Falcis brothers have less than 25,000 followers on their Instagram accounts combined, less than half of that number is their combined number of followers on Twitter. Atty. Jess’s Facebook account is followed by more than 18,000 people. For Nicko’s Facebook account, he has put his Friend’s list on private mode. 

“Pero ang ginagawa ko, ’yong tamang paraan,” Kris continued. “Nandito kami sa korte ngayon, at gusto kong bigyan ng tamang respeto ang ating Philippine judicial system. That’s why sinagot ko lahat ng mga accusations against me. Again, I would like to say a sincere apology because in the heat of the moment I said things that I should not have said.”

She then looks at Bimby while saying that as a parent, she knows that she should be a good example to her children. “At dapat, ang mga bagay, lalong-lalo na pag nasasaktan ka, hindi dapat dinadaan sa dahas ang pag-aayos no’n. Pero sana rin naman, sila, tigilan na nila ako dahil sumusobra na rin naman. At ang lahat ng tao, kahit siguro kahit pinaka-angelic na tao ka na, kahit madre, kahit pari siguro, pag araw-araw iniinsulto ang buong pagkatao mo, bibigay ka rin.”

She then challenged the brothers to meet her face-to-face. “I was so looking forward to finally seeing them dahil ang tapang-tapang sa social media, pero anong araw na ba ngayon? Today is already February 22, and they still have not had the courage to face me. Di ba? Parang, sorry ha, ang dami n’yong sinabi laban sa akin, pero hindi n’yo naman ako kayang harapin. So hinahamon ko kayo.”

The next meeting of the parties is on March 8.

Kris asked her lawyer if the could do the next meeting in private. “Yes,” Atty. Eloisa answered.

“Para hindi ito maging circus,” Kris explained.

“Let this not be a trial by publicity,” Kris said. “But let this be a trial in the Philippine court system, which I respect. And I do believe that justice will be served because I know I am innocent. Maraming salamat po.”

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Kris says goodbye to sister Ballsy Cruz, and is asked by media regarding the junking by a Makati court of her qualified theft charges against Nicko Falcis.

 

“Ano daw?”

Outside the building, as the Aquinos prepared to enter their cars, media continued to follow them. Before Kris entered her SUV, we tried to ask her about the latest development in her case: the qualified theft case she filed against Nicko was junked by the Makati City court on February 18, 2019.

“Na-junk daw po ’yong theft case?” we asked.

“Ano daw?” she answered. Then Atty. Eloise goaded Kris closer to her car. We also asked Atty. Eloisa for a statement regarding the decision. “We don’t know,” she replied. “We’re not the lawyers there.”

According to a report published by PEP.ph on February 22,  the Fortune Narvasa Salazar Law Office, the firm handling the qualified theft case, said that they still don’t have a copy of the resolution, and that they have “yet to determine the basis for this information and how news sites, especially PEP.ph, were able to get a copy of the resolution ahead of most everyone including Ms. Aquino’s lawyers, despite consistent follow up queries with the assigned investigating prosecutor just today.

“We are filing a motion for reconsideration of that resolution as soon as we receive our copy.”

 

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