Raymart Santiago is determined to seek an annulment of his nine-year marriage to Claudine Barretto.
The actor himself revealed this to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other media, yesterday, September 26, at the story conference of GMA’s Villa Quintana.
Raymart is currently engaged in a court battle with Claudine.
She has accused him of hurting her physically, and has asked the court to issue a protection order against him, which would effectively keep him away from her and their children.
He has countered with an affidavit saying that it is he that is the battered partner in their relationship because of her drug habit, and has petitioned the court to give him custody of their six-year-old biological son and their nine-year-old adopted daughter.
But one question hangs in the air: What triggered Raymart’s decision to leave the Loyola Grand Villas home he built with Claudine?
It may be recalled that @gretchenbarretto was the first to pick up on Raymart leaving the conjugal home, as she confronted an Instagram user named "btchjuliaisbitch."
One of @gretchenbarretto’s posts on April 13 was: "Your husband walked out coz [of] you [your] violent ways..."
Though @gretchenbarretto did not name names, her Instagram followers were quick to conclude that she was referring to Raymart and Claudine.
On April 24, Inday Barretto, the mother of Claudine and Gretchen, confirmed this, through a letter published in Ricky Lo’s column in the Philippine Star: "Raymart left home? Yes, it is true."
Rumors that the Santiago couple’s marriage was on the rocks had been circulating in showbiz for some time, but the couple had not given the public a hint of their troubles.
In Raymart’s interview with PEP, published last April 16, reporter Rose Garcia asked: "Wala pa silang planong sundan si Santino?"
And the actor had answered: "Happy na ako. Ayoko pang isipin."
When Claudine’s rumored transfer to another network was brought up, Raymart commented: “Meron siyang offer. Ayoko rin sabihin dahil baka ma-preempt. Sa kanila na lang.”
But apparently, even at the time, things were seriously wrong between him and Claudine.
According to his counter-affidavit, which he submitted to the Office of the City Prosecutor of Marikina on September 24, he left home on March 17, or several weeks before his April press interviews.
Raymart said in his counter-affidavit: "I finally decided to turn and walk away for good."
His reason, still according to the counter-affidavit, was: "The final straw that caused our marital breakup was when Complainant imposed upon me to sue the latter’s sister, Gretchen Barretto, for alleged derogatory remarks made by her against our children."
A BIG FIGHT. Still according to his affidavit, there was one occasion when Gretchen called Claudine on the phone, and that the latter thought her sister’s call was an "insult."
From then on, Raymart’s affidavit said, Claudine repeatedly prodded him to sue Gretchen.
In his words: "I refused to file a complaint based on hearsay considering that I have not directly heard the same from Gretchen, and I would be fabricating tales should I proceed with the suit."
Last March 17, he continued, in Claudine’s "desperate attempt" to make him sue Gretchen: "[She] threw her usual tantrums.
"She grew violent again, hurling invectives at everyone who crossed her path, including me, our household help and our personal assistants."
Raymart’s witness—Rodolfo Gedraga, who used to be the personal masseur of the couple—said, in the same counter-affidavit: "Tahimik lang na umalis si Mr. Raymart sa kanilang tahanan ng madaling araw."
THE PORSCHE. @gretchenbarretto’s Instagram post of April 13, 2013, also mentioned a "Porsche" and a "laptop."
The Instagram post, which had told the user "btchjuliaisbitch" that her husband left her because she was violent, also said:
"What exactly did you do to his Porsche? His laptop?"
On April 22, Claudine Barretto posted on Instagram a photograph of herself washing a black Porsche with Sabina.
Earlier today, September 27, PEP got more information on the Porsche.
In a phone conversation and text exchange with Raymart’s lawyer, Atty. Ruth Castelo, she explained why @gretchenbarretto asked about her client’s car, and why Claudine used "controversial Porsche" as the caption for one of the two photos she posted on her Instagram nine days later.
"This is true," Atty. Castelo said about the fate of the Porsche.
"Claudine made several threats to Raymart that she was going to vent her anger on his cars after he left the conjugal home for good on March 17, 2013.
"Raymart refused to disclose his whereabouts to Claudine for fear that she will harass him and nag him again.
"Claudine made her threats real and destroyed Raymart’s Porsche sometime in April 2013."
In Raymart’s counter-affidavit, he stated: "Complainant one day turned violent again and relentlessly smashed my Porsche parked in our garage with a tubular steel."
His claim was seconded by Rodolfo Gedraga, the masseur.
Rodolfo said that Claudine first instructed him to switch off the home’s CCTV, or security cameras, and he obeyed. He said this is what happened next:
"Mga ilang minuto, may narinig akong malakas na lagabog at nang hanapin ko kung saan nanggagaling ang tunog, nakita ko pinapalo na pala ni Ms. Claudine ang Porsche na black car ni Mr. Raymart sa kabilang garahe gamit ang mahaba at isang uri ng bakal."
According to Rodolfo, the car’s windshield, side mirror, and hood were damaged.
The couple’s former masseur added: "Next two days, lumabas sa PEP ang balitang nawasak daw ni Ms. Claudine ang Porsche ni Mr. Raymart."
(Editor’s Note: PEP carried two articles about the Porsche. The first was about Gretchen asking what happened to it; the second was about Claudine posting two photographs of the car. PEP, unable to get confirmation on the fate of the car, did not say that the car had been ruined by the actress.)
Continuing, Rodolfo stated: "Inutusan ako ni Ms. Claudine na gawan ko raw ng paraan na maibalik ang mga nasira at kulayan ng black ang mga gasgas.
"Sinabi ko, ’Mam, hindi ko po kaya gawan ng paraan yang mga damage sa Porsche sapagkat wala akong alam pagdating sa car.’
"Sinabi niya, ’Bahala ka. Gawan mo ng paraan yan. Pi-picture-an ko yan at magpapa-picture ako diyan. Ilalabas ko sa PEP na walang sira yan at hindi totoong sinira ko.’"
Rodolfo added that, with "electrical tape, pentel pen black, and black Manila paper," he and one of the drivers, whom Rodolfo identified as Junior, managed to conceal the damage.
In his words, "Pag sa camera, hindi halata o kita ang mga damage kaya nagpa-picture si Ms. Claudine sa akin gamit ang camera niyang digital na Panasonic Lumix.
"Tumayo siya sa gilid ng Porsche at isinama pa si Sabina at nag-pose silang mag-ina at inilabas na niya sa PEP."
THE COUPLE’S OTHER ISSUES. But Claudine’s rift with her sister Gretchen was, according to Raymart, not the only issue in the marriage.
Raymart’s 24-page counter-affidavit mentioned at least five incidents of domestic violence, allegedly committed by Claudine against him.
The counter-affidavit was also accompanied with videos and photos of Claudine’s supposed "drug use."
Atty. Ruth Castelo, in the phone interview with PEP, said: "Everything that we stated in the counter-affidavit are facts as narrated by Raymart.
"These are actual events that took place, and are all supported by evidence.
"These pieces of evidence are attached to the counter-affidavit, 41 annexes in all."
Asked about confidentiality issues surrounding the case, Atty. Castelo told PEP: "There’s no gag order yet."
For her part, Claudine has accused Raymart of physical, psychological, economic, and sexual abuse.
In PEP’s interview with her lawyer, Atty. Junelet Mataro, on August 29—the day Claudine filed the case against Raymart, invoking R.A. 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act—Claudine’s lawyer said:
"[We] have pictures, medical certificates to prove the physical violence inflicted upon her by Raymart.
“We also have pictures of the wounds of Claudine.
“We also have bank statements regarding the economic abuse that Raymart has inflicted upon her.
“We also have affidavits from the members of her family for the psychological abuse, because Claudine has said that she has been socially alienated by Raymart."
On October 8, the two are scheduled to see each other again, at the Office of the City Prosecutor of Marikina City.
PEP also made several attempts to reach Claudine, through her mother, Inday Barretto, and her lawyer, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio.
Inday Barretto answered this writer with this text message: "In time, all will be revealed, and his lies and actions will be revealed."
Atty. Topacio, responding via text messaging, said they will issue a statement on October 1, the same day they are calling for a press conference.
Inday Barretto said she will be at the press conference. The expectation is that Claudine Barretto will also be there.