MANILA -- What began as an attempt to patch things up between feuding members of the showbiz Barretto clan ended in a confrontation and a scuffle at the wake of the family patriarch, Miguel.
The latest incident in the Barretto family saga took place on Wednesday during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte, who counts actress Gretchen Barretto as a close supporter.
The President’s visit was also an occasion for Gretchen to visit the wake and reconcile with her mother Inday, with whom she has had an off-and-on feud.
Gretchen’s youngest sister, Claudine, posted about the family reunion on Instagram, where she expressed her admiration for her “Ate” with whom she reconciled only recently.
Gretchen remains at odds with another sister, Marjorie -- a former actress and a former councilor of Caloocan City. Recently, they had a public spat over a controversy involving Marjorie’s daughter, young actress Julia Barretto.
According to two sources who were present at the wake, the President urged Gretchen and Marjorie to “shake hands, just for tonight,” out of respect for their deceased father.
The sources said Gretchen tried to oblige the request, saying that she was “the older one after all.” However, they said, Marjorie refused and instead accused Gretchen of being “plastic, porke nandito ang President (just because the President is here).”
”Marjorie was obviously mainit (fuming), you can see it in her body language,” one source told ABS-CBN News. “Si Gretchen, kalmado lang (she was calm).”
While the President was talking to some members of the family, the sources said, a woman – later identified as one of the Barretto grandchildren – suddenly lunged at Gretchen who was in one corner talking to some friends. The source said the friends restrained Gretchen and prevented her from retaliating against her niece.
Just when they thought the worst was over, the source said, Gretchen suddenly grabbed her niece by the hair and a scuffle ensued. Members of the Presidential Security Group had to break up the fight.
An eyewitness said the niece suffered a cut on her face. Gretchen, meanwhile, reportedly apologized to the President for what happened at her father’s wake.
Asked how the President reacted to the events at the Barretto wake, one source said: “He was shocked. On the way (to the wake) he was briefed that not all is well with the Barretto family; but maybe he was not prepared to see such a display.”
In a statement to ABS-CBN News, Gretchen said, “It was all so nice until Marjorie had a nervous breakdown.”
She confirmed that President Duterte “was asking Marjorie to shake my hand for the sake of respect of my father.”
“But Marjorie was not happy that I was there to reunite with family,” Gretchen added.
Marjorie had earlier declined ABS-CBN News’ request to interview members of the family. She has yet to respond to a subsequent request for a statement.