Jennylyn Mercado was shocked by the tabloid report claiming she rediscounted a check amounting to 400,000 pesos (click here to read the article), but her former handler, Mel Pulmano, reacted to the issue quite calmly.
In a phone conversation with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) last night, November 4, Mel explained the issue of the check this way: "Kasama iyon sa pina-rediscount sa akin...Nung una, personal checks ko yung ini-issue, more than one million yun. Pati yung sa friend ko, one million din...Mga limang tao kami, kasama si Jen, na nag-rediscount ng personal checks."
Rediscounting checks is the practice of exchanging postdated checks for immediate cash, at the price of taking in a relatively small loss in actual cash at hand. PEP probed: Who asked you to rediscount the personal check of Jennylyn?
Mel chose not to mention names, saying that the matter was elevated to the courts last Tuesday, October 28, when Jennylyn and her manager Becky Aguila slapped her with 19 counts of qualified theft and eight cases of falsification of commercial documents.
(Technically, people involved in court cases can speak about them in public even when the cases have been filed. It is when the prosecutor has ruled that there is, indeed, reason to try the cases and elevates these to the office of a judge that subjudice may be invoked.)
Mel pointed out, however, that she was merely a messenger in all her dealings with a certain "Tita C," whom tabloid columnist Nene Riego has described as someone "kilala at respetado ng mga taga-showbiz na nagpapalit ng tseke sa mababang porsiyento."
She told PEP, "Minsan, personal checks ko talaga yung pinapa-rediscount ko. Pero ilang beses na dadalhin ko ang mga tsekeng ibinigay sa akin ni Becky, at pirmado na ni Jennylyn. Ipapadala sa akin ni Tita C yung pera. Tapos, ibibigay ko ke Becky yung pera."
She added—referring to the P400,000 worth of check—with some emphasis, "Nakita ni Tita C kung sino yung kasama ko, kung sino ang nagbaba sa akin sa kotse, at kung sino ang kasama kong umalis."
The former handler of Jen added that she actually met Tita C through Becky. "Dinadala niya ako doon para magpa-rediscount."
PEP sent a text message to "Tita C" to inquire about Mel's claim, but at press time, we had not received a reply.
WHO DEALT WITH TITA C? According to Nene Riego's column, the cellphone number used to transact with Tita C was 0920-9705025. A total of 22 messages—which included MMS photos of baby Jazz—were sent to that number, allegedly by Jennylyn. According to Riego, Tita C remembered talking to "Jennylyn" through that number.
To this, Mel said: "Number yun ng office namin. Ginagamit din sa office ni Becky. Dun naman sa photo, alam ni Jen kung sino ang mahilig mag-send ng MMS pic ni Jazz."
Becky Aguila has pointed to Mel as the person who had access to that cellphone number and could have used it to call Tita C using Jennylyn's name. When asked Mel if it was she who talked to Tita C using that number and Jennylyn's name, Mel answered with a definite: "No."
Mel added, "Nakuwento nga rin ni Tita C, na minsang kaharap niya ako at kausap, biglang may tumawag at sinasabing ako daw."
Mel stressed that her former alaga, Jennylyn, was not privy to these transactions, and that this is not the first financial discrepancy that Jennlynhas uncovered.
According to Mel, last January 10, 2008, the first StarStruck Ultimate Female Survivor found out that her savings account—which she opened in 2004—only had a remaining balance of P2,967. Jennylyn reportedly chose not to confront her manager, who was her co-depositor. Instead, Mel said, Jennylyn just opened a new account as sole depositor.
Last October 7, Jen also discovered that some of her cleared checks bore her forged signature.
It was then that Jen reportedly looked into the matter more closely.
BACKTRACK. Mel recounted how the tables were suddenly turned. According to her story:
"October 6 nung humingi ako ng day off kay Becky. Sabi ko, ‘Day off lang ako bukas ha. Kailangan kong mag-rest kasi hindi na ako nakakatulog.' Binigyan niya ako ng gamot at ininom ko naman. Mas lalong lumala...Nagsusuka at nagt*e raw ako. Yun na nga yung hindi ko maidilat ang mga mata ko.
"October 7 nung binisita ako nina Jennylyn, tinatanong daw ako kahit tulog, at nakakasagot naman ako.
"October 8, biglang nagalit si Jen. Nagtawag na ng attorney.
"October 9, ipinatawag ni Becky lahat ng involved, including three attorneys. Sabi ni Jen kay Becky, ‘Dadalhin ko muna si Mel sa hospital, tatawag ako ng ambulansiya.' Sabi raw ni Becky, ‘Ipakulong na iyan! Mga pulis ang tawagan at hindi ambulansiya!'
"Alam mo, dinala ako ng asawa ko sa Malvar Hospital, hindi kami tinanggap, sa East Avenue Medical Center na lang daw, kasi wala kaming kapera-pera..."
That was the last time Mel heard from Jennylyn. She also attempted to contact Jennylyn through Lydia Mercado, Jen's adoptive mother, but Mel received a "Sino ito?" response. She also sent several messages to Becky, and the latter's constant reply was, "See you in court."
She continued, "Bago nangyari ang lahat nang yun, sinabi ko pa kay Becky na pondohan na yung tseke ko at yung kay Jen. Ayun, nadiskubre... Nataranta, ako ang itinuro."
IS MEL A VICTIM? While the cases are being reviewed by a prosecutor, the public cannot help but start speculating. Some may look at Mel as the mastermind. Others may see her as a mere accomplice to stashing away Jen's money. And still others may think of her as the "fall guy."
Mel was quick to say: "Hindi. Biktima rin ako. Paano na yung personal checks ko? Yung kay Tita C—isang tao lang yun, may iba pa. Paano na yung tseke ng kaibigan ko? Hindi pa nababayaran ang mga yun. Hindi ako magmamalinis dahil may mga pinagkakautangan ako, pero biktima rin ako."
PEP asked: Didn't you ever ask Becky then about the checks she allegedly asked you to rediscount?
"Empleyado niya ako, e," Mel answered. "Sumusunod sa amo, pero walang napupunta sa akin. Hindi ito first time. Nangyari na ito kay Angel [Locsin] dati. Naalala mo yung isyu nila noon sa pera? Nagtatanungan lang kami na magkaka-opisina. Alam ni Mommy Lydia iyan. Alam niya na diktador si Becky."
Mel said she was aware that the battle has just begun. She knows that more accusations will be thrown her way. "Okay lang," she said. "Malalaman din ang totoo."
Lastly, she declared: "Laban na ito."