Live na nag-guest sa Showbiz Central kahapon, April 19, ang ina ni Richard Gutierrez na si Annabelle Rama upang sagutin ang naging pahayag ng abogado ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) na si Atty. Sandra Olaso-Coronel sa Startalk noong Sabado, April 18. Ito ay kaugnay ng cease-and-desist letter na ipinadala ng legal counsel ni Annabelle na si Atty. Agnes Maranan sa PEP noong April 14, upang ipatigil ang pagpa-publish ng anumang artikulo o komento tungkol kay Richard sa website na ito.
Bukod kay Annabelle, live ding na-interview ng Showbiz Central host na si Pia Guanio si Atty. Maranan at ang legal counsel ni Richard na si Atty. Angelica Santiago.
THE WITNESSES. Pero bago ang live interview ni Annabelle at ng mga abogado nila ni Richard, ipinakita muna ang taped interview sa tatlong witnesses ni Richard—sina Mark Reyes, Bubbles Paraiso, at Michael Flores—kaugnay ng P25-million libel suit na isinampa ng young actor laban sa PEP noong April 13. Ito ay dahil sa nalathalang artikulo rito sa PEP tungkol sa diumano'y "altercation" nina Richard at Michael sa birthday party ni Direk Mark noong madaling-araw ng March 29. (Click here to read related story.)
Narito ang kanilang mga pahayag:
Mark: "As far as I know, nag-umpisa ang party ng 9 p.m. Natapos ang party ng 3 a.m. Umuwi ang mga guests ko, as far as I know, walang nangyaring ganoon. I double checked Oceana [venue ng party] kung may nangyaring ganoon at kung may incident report, wala. I asked a lot of people, walang nakakita. As far as I'm concerned, I hosted a party that began and ended without any incident."
Bubbles: "Dumating po ako sa party kasama ko si Richard at si Raymond [Richard's twin brother]. Kasama ko po sila the whole night. Umalis po ako sa party, kasama ko pa rin po si Richard. So since magkasama po kami the whole night at wala akong na-witness, siguro naman po ibig sabihin nun, wala talagang nangyari."
Michael: "Wala lahat, e. Yung parking lot, yung nagkasigawan kami. Yung 'gun toting' na sinasabi nila, kasi medyo magulo yung part na yun. Kasi, hindi mo alam kung si Richard ba ang tumutok sa akin, or ako ba ang tumutok kay Richard, or kaming dalawa ang nagtutukan.
"Masyadong malalim yung term na 'gun toting,' e. So, siyempre, baril na yung pinag-uusapan. Sana na lang talaga matapos na 'to. At yung sinasabi nilang ita-try nilang i-defend, na meron talagang nangyari na ipipilit nila, e, sana magpakita rin talaga. Dahil sobrang nakakahiya siya. Wala talagang nangyaring ganoon, e. Nakakalungkot na, e, alam mo yun? Masyado nang lumaki at sana matapos nang lahat."
(Sa artikulong nailathala rito sa PEP noong March 29, walang binanggit na "tutukan ng baril." Ayon sa Longman English Dictionary Online at dictionary.com, ang "gun toting" ay "carrying a gun" o pagdadala ng baril.)
Mark: "I will wait for that [investigation]. I would want to find out who knew what. Because as a host who had the party, I would want to know kung talagang may nangyari. Because until they have not shown me anybody who would really say na, 'I saw what happened,' I will not believe it because, you know, it could be just hearsay. To our mind, to what, 200 of my guests, nothing happened."
Bubbles: "Nakakasira kasi ng isang reputasyon. Especially with someone in Richard's stature talaga na he worked so hard for his image, for his reputation and then, isang ganyan lang, masisira, hindi naman totoo. So, kailangan talagang ipaglaban namin. To fight for what's right, to fight for the truth."
Michael: "Knowing Richard, sa personality noong tao, kahit papaano naman, nakatrabaho ko siya sa Kamandag. Ang bata pa niya. Kumbaga, kaya nga ganito na lang siya mag-react ngayon dahil pinagkakaingatan niya yung career niya. At naiintindihan ko rin yung family niya na all-out support. Kung sila nga all-out support, di ba?"
Mark: "I had a great time that time celebrating my birthday, and it's unfortunate this thing happened. Sana ma-clear 'to at magkaayusan, both PEP and sina Tita Annabelle at si Richard. It's really a small issue that just went out of proportion. Na sana talaga, maayos lahat ito and, you know, everybody move forward."
Pagkatapos nito ay nakausap naman ni Pia live on the phone ang GMA Films President na si Ms. Annette Gozon-Abrogar, na isa sa mga guest sa naturang birthday party ni Direk Mark.
Narito ang kanilang naging usapan:
Pia: As one of the guests of the said birthday party, meron po ba kayong personal na nakita o narinig tungkol sa sinasabing insidente?
Annette: "Actually, I left the party at around 12 [midnight]. Yung sinasabing insidente na 'yan, wala na ako. But while I was there, everyone was friendly, calm, and everyone's just having a good time celebrating Direk Mark's birthday. So, yun ang nakita ko."
Pia: Did you get a chance to personally talk to Richard or Michael Flores that night?
Annette: "Actually si Richard, kinausap ko because when he came, everyone was very happy. Kaka-launch lang kasi ng Zorro at that time. So, ang pinag-usapan namin noon was how happy we are with the result of Zorro. Tapos, sinasabi niya nga kung paano yung mga efforts nila for the show. And we also talked about his upcoming movie project. So, he was very excited. His spirit was very positive that night. Si Michael Flores naman, I just saw him, he was there early. And he was sila with Bobby Andrews and they were just having a good time."
Pia: So, there's no indication that anybody was problematic?
Annette: "Actually, doon sa party nga, parang it was a very wholesome party. It wasn't even yung mga rowdy types of parties. Yung pinag-uusapan nga usually ng mga tao do'n, work. So, parang nagulat nga ako noong marinig ko yung nangyari."
Pia: Ano ang reaction n'yo ngayon sa buong isyu na ito na humantong pa sa demandahan?
Annette: "Actually, nagulat talaga ako noong narinig ko na may nasulat na ganoon, and I even asked my friends who were there until the end kung may nakita rin sila, pero wala. Parang so far, doon sa mga nakausap ko, wala naman silang gulong alam na nangyari that night.
"So, nagtaka talaga ako why there was something like that. But I guess, si Richard kasi is a very responsible person and I know for a fact, na talagang sobra siyang naka-focus sa career niya, that's his life. So I understand how he feels na he really want talaga to protect his name. Because siyempre, pangalan niya yung nakataya rito. And it's very important in showbiz to maintain a very good image and reputation. So, I guess it's his right to file a case, so lumabas naman ang totoo. And I think, everyone will benefit from that, because eventually, the truth will come out."