Celebrity sisters Claudine and Gretchen Barretto. Composite image
Actress files counter-affidavit in theft case
MANILA -- "Nababaliw na yata siya."
This was how Claudine Barretto dismissed questions about her estranged sister, Gretchen, who she believes is behind the theft charges filed against her by her former personal assistant.
On Thursday morning, Claudine filed her counter-affidavit answering the complaint before the Marikina Regional Trial Court, where several cases related to her marital spat with actor Raymart Santiago are also being heard.
This latest legal complaint to beset the 34-year-old actress was filed on September 11 by Dessa Cadelario Patilan, who was imprisoned in May following Claudine's own accusations of theft. At the time, the former TV star alleged Patilan stole a watch and jewelry amounting to over P10 million.
In Patilan's countercharge against Claudine, she claimed damages amounting to over P100,000. These include the items supposedly stolen by Claudine -- a wallet, an electronic tablet, a memory card and a sim card.
On Thursday, Claudine's legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, raised several points questioning the motive of Patilan's filing of the theft complaint.
He emphasized that it was formalized four months after the same May incident cited by both camps in their respective sworn statements. Topacio also stressed the fact that Patilan is being represented by Atty. Alma Mallonga, who he accused of conspiring with Claudine's sister Gretchen.
"Alam naman natin ang istorya dito, 'di ba?" he began.
"Sinasagot lang naman namin [ang mga akusasyon ni Patilan]," Topacio said. "Wala naman kasi talagang katotohanan eh. Kasi kung totoo 'yan, bakit ngayon lang? At saka bakit kung noong nabigyan lang siya ng abogado ni Gretchen, saka lang siya nag-file ng countercharge?"
Referring to a published interview last month, Topacio continued, "Inamin naman ni Atty. Mallonga eh. Hindi naman kami nagsabi noon eh, hindi naman haka-haka 'yun eh. Inamin naman nila, 'diba. Nagpa-interview sila. Sinabi niya na si Gretchen ang kumausap sa kanya para ibigay siya bilang abugado ni Dessa. And then after that, nag-file na ng countercharge. So alam na natin 'yon."
Topacio was referring to Mallonga's statements in a report published on the TV5 news website Interaksyon. The report quoted Mallonga as saying: "Yes, it is true Gretchen is a client and a good friend. This matter concerning Dessa was brought to my attention, my personal capacity really, by Gretchen."
The lawyer stressed, however, that she did not get any specific instructions from Gretchen concerning the case, and that the older Barretto had only endorsed Patilan to her out of concern.
'Magsama sila sa kulungan'
Shortly before filing her counter-affidavit on Thursday, Claudine was asked by reporters whether she is ready to face Patilan's allegations.
"Magsama na lang sila ni Gretchen sa kulungan," she shot back.
Asked whether she is convinced that Gretchen is out to ruin her by endorsing the case, "Syempre malungkot, syempre nakakaawa. Nakakalungkot kasi ginagamit siya (Patilan) ng kapatid ko."
Claudine added she would be willing to drop any legal spat with Patilan if she apologizes. "Oo naman, iyon lang naman ang hinahantay ko [na humingi siya ng tawad]," the actress said.
The "Mula sa Puso" star was brief words when asked on her other pending legal case, specifically on the subject of her siblings' testimonies backing her husband's allegations against her.
In Santiago's counter-affidavit responding to Claudine's allegations of "physical, sexual, psychological and economic" abuse, Gretchen and two other Barretto siblings, JJ and Marjorie, alleged their youngest sister is mentally ill and has a history of drug abuse.
Gretchen, in a subsequent published statement, went on to detail this alleged illness and use of illegal drugs, and how their family supposedly conspired to have Claudine hospitalized for treatment.
Referring to her sister's statement, Claudine said, "Hindi ko alam. Hindi ako nakikinig sa mga sinasabi nila. Hindi ko alam kung sino ang adik sa amin talaga."