In an official statement sent to media on Thursday, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of actress Claudine Barretto, suggested that Gretchen Barretto is behind the theft complaint filed against his client by a former personal assistant, Dessa Cadelario Patilan.
Patilan, 19, filed theft charges against Claudine last September 11 at the Marikina City Prosecutor’s Office and is demanding P13,550 in damages, P50,000 in moral damages, P50,000 in exemplary damages, as well as the monetary cost for legal services after the actress allegedly took her money and personal belongings last May.
Claudine has previously sent Patilan to jail in May for allegedly stealing from her P8.5 million worth of jewelry. Patilan remains detained at the Marikina City PNP Detention Cell.
However, Atty. Topacio has reason to believe that the case is more than just a counter-charge against his client. He insinuated in the statement that there may be someone behind Patilan who is orchestrating the bad publicity his client is receiving.
First, Topacio is questioning why Patilan waited four months before filing her case. Second, he is wondering why Patilan filed her complaint in the midst of several legal cases Claudine filed against her estranged husband Raymart Santiago which include protection orders, violence against women, and perjury.
And third, Claudine’s legal counsel is asking why the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Office, one of the country’s biggest and most expensive law offices, has agreed to represent Patilan.
According to Topacio, their camp can’t help but raise suspicion against Patilan’s legal counsel Atty. Alma Malongga of the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Office, who has previously represented interests identified with Claudine’s estranged sister, actress Gretchen Barretto and her longtime companion Mr. Tonyboy Cojuangco. The Barretto sisters have been in a long running public feud.
Topacio also included in the statement their observations that former personal staff members of his client were colluding with Santiago after he had left the conjugal home, in order to obtain certain valuable personal properties from the household and also information as to Ms. Barretto’s movements, which make Patilan and the case she filed very suspicious.
Meanwhile, Atty. Mallonga has admitted that Gretchen Barretto, who is a client and good friend, endorsed Tipalan’s case to her. However, she clarified that she took Tipalan’s case on her personal capacity as a pro bono client. She also reiterated that she is not receiving instructions or compensation from Gretchen or anybody else.
Mallonga added that she was personally convinced that Claudine Barretto had committed a grave injustice against Tipalan. The lawyer added that Gretchen had only acted out of concern for former personal assistant because this was not the first time her younger sister had sent an employee to jail.