Sinagot ni Atty. Alma F. Mallonga ang mga pahayag ng aktres na si Claudine Barretto tungkol sa kaso ng kanyang kliyenteng si Dessa Cadelario Patilan.
Si Dessa, 19, ang dating personal assistant ni Claudine, 34, na ipinakulong ng aktres noong Mayo 10, 2013, dahil sa bintang na pagnanakaw ng mga alahas at iba pang mamahaling gamit niya na nagkakahalaga diumano ng P8.5 million.
Noong September 11 ay naghain naman si Dessa ng reklamong Theft laban kay Claudine, dahil ninakaw diumano ng aktres ang kanyang mga gamit na may kabuuang halaga na P13,550.
Si Atty. Malongga, ng Siguion-Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako Law Office, ang humahawak ng kaso ni Dessa.
Sinabi ng kampo ni Claudine sa media na may kinalaman si Gretchen sa paghahain ng reklamo ni Dessa laban kay Claudine.
“Nakakalungkot kasi ginagamit siya [Dessa] ng kapatid ko,” pahayag ni Claudine sa media kahapon, October 10, nang mag-file ito ng counter-affidavit para sagutin ang akusasyon ni Dessa, sa Makati Regional Trial Court.
Nauna nang kinuwestiyon ng legal counsel ni Claudine, na si Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, ang intensiyon ni Atty. Malongga sa pagbibigay-serbisyo nito kay Dessa.
Ayon kay Atty. Topacio, konektado ang law office ni Atty. Mallonga kay Gretchen, ang kaalitang kapatid ni Claudine at longtime partner ng billionaire businessman na si Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco Jr.
ATTY. MALLONGA’S REPLY. Ngayong hapon, October 11, nakatanggap ng email ang PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) mula kay Atty. Alma Mallonga, na dati nang nakakapanayam ng PEP tungkol sa kaso nina Claudine at Dessa.
Dito ay nilinaw ng beteranang abugado ang pagkakaugnay kay Gretchen sa reklamong inihain ni Dessa laban kay Claudine.
Iginiit ng abugado na pro-bono client ng kanilang law firm si Dessa, na ang ibig sabihin ay libre ang serbisyong ibibigay nila rito.
Sinabi rin nitong may karapatan ang 19-year-old sa isang mahusay na depensa, lalo na’t ito ay para sa isang kasong nakapagpakulong na sa kanya at maaaring ikasira nang tuluyan ng buhay nito.
ANG KABUUANG PAHAYAG NI ATTY. MALLONGA
“For the record: It is true, as I have said before, that the case of Dessa Patilan was brought to my attention by Gretchen Barretto.
“Gretchen, a friend and a client in other cases, was concerned that a possible injustice had been committed because this was not the first time that her sister, Claudine, had made accusations and filed charges for theft against her house help.
“The request of Gretchen to me was simple: please look into Dessa’s plight and help her, but only if I believed such help was warranted.
“Being convinced, after talking to Dessa, that she deserved help, I asked, and the law office of Siguion Reyna Montecillo and Ongsiako to which I belong agreed, to represent Dessa pro bono.
“There are four lawyers in the law firm who are now working very hard to protect the rights of Dessa.
"This is not the first time I, the law firm or its lawyers, have agreed to handle a case pro bono, and it will certainly not be the last.
“To be clear: Dessa is our client in this particular matter, not Gretchen Barretto. We do not take instructions or directions from Gretchen in the handling of this case.
“But Dessa will almost certainly need help in the future.
“If she is granted bail, or if her case is dismissed, we will ask that help be given this 19-year-old girl. She has no work, her money has been taken from her, she is alone, she has nowhere to go.
“Gretchen will be one of the people I know we will be able to approach to help Dessa.
“Again and again, Claudine and her lawyer have belittled the filing of charges of theft against her by Dessa.
“They ask: Why only now and not 4 months earlier when she was first imprisoned?
“The answer is simple: Dessa was not aware she had the right to file these charges until we became her lawyers.
“The case for theft against Claudine was filed because we believed there was strong legal and factual basis for doing so.
“The pivotal question that must be answered by Claudine in pending proceedings is this: did she, in fact, take money and properties from Dessa that she knew did not belong to her?
"She cannot change the subject by vilifying Gretchen or our law firm as Dessa’s lawyers.
“Claudine and her lawyer have insinuated that Gretchen must be behind these charges.
“The insinuation is unfair to Gretchen, oppressive to Dessa, and a virtual slur against the law firm. We are not in the business of manufacturing cases.
“Claudine, certainly not a pauper, is said to be represented by Atty. Topacio on a pro bono basis.
"Why should our law office’s motivations be questioned for doing the same thing for Dessa who is destitute and defenseless?"