“The court does not deserve the insulting statements from Atty. Topacio,” says Atty. Ruth Castelo, Raymart Santiago’s counsel in his ongoing legal battle with estranged wife Claudine Barretto.
Atty. Castelo’s statement—sent to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via text messaging today, December 21, at around 5:12 p.m.—comes on the heels of comments by Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Claudine Barretto’s legal counsel, questioning the judge’s decision to push through with the December 19 hearing.
Atty. Topacio had asked Judge Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig of Marikina Regional Trial Court’s Branch 192 to postpone the hearing of Claudine’s petition for a Permanent Protection Order against Raymart.
Topacio’s statement—sent to PEP writer Arniel Serato yesterday, December 20, with capitalizations provided by Topacio—Claudine’s lawyer cast aspersions on the court:
“KAHIT SAANG HUKUMAN AY PINAGBIBIGYAN ANG POSTPONEMENT NG KASO KAPAG ANG DAHILAN AY KARAMDAMAN NG ABOGADO. HINAHAMON KO ANG SINO MAN NA IPAGTANONG ANG BAGAY NA ITO SA KAHIT SINONG HUWES O HUKUMAN SA KAHIT ANONG LUGAR SA PILIPINAS.
“Ngunit nakapagtataka sapagkat hindi pinakinggan ng huwes ang aming kahilingan…”
At one point, he also said that the court seemed to be giving Gretchen Barretto "special treatment." Gretchen testified as a witness for Raymart Santiago in the December 19 hearing.
In her response today, Atty. Castelo says, “It is not fair to the court and to our witnesses that Claudine’s camp came unprepared and now cries foul.”
She also says Atty. Topacio should have “briefed” his associate, Atty. Ivy Cabitingan, who was present in court on December 19.
Atty. Castelo says about Atty. Cabitingan: “Yes, she was sent to move for postponement of the hearing but any legitimate member of the bar in good standing should know that once he or she enters appearance in court in a client’s behalf, he or she should come prepared and ready for the proceedings.”
FULL STATEMENT OF ATTY. RUTH CASTELO. Except for paragraphing, which PEP routinely adjusts for easier web reading, this statement is published as is:
Mr. Santiago’s witnesses Gretchen and J.J. came prepared to tell the truth on Dec.19, 2013.
They were ready to be cross-examined by Claudine’s lawyers, and in fact, expected a rigorous court hearing on that day.
Unfortunately, Claudine’s lawyers Atty. Topacio and Atty. Lomangaya did not show up for some reason.
Atty. Topacio, however, is deliberately omitting one important detail: That he sent another lawyer in the person of Atty. Ivy Cabatingan to represent him and his client.
Yes, she was sent to move for postponement of the hearing but any legitimate member of the bar in good standing should know that once he or she enters appearance in court in a client’s behalf, he or she should come prepared and ready for the proceedings.
Atty. Topacio, being the seasoned lawyer that he says he is, should have briefed his associate well.
It is not fair to the court and to our witnesses that Claudine’s camp came unprepared and now cries foul.
The court does not deserve the insulting statements from Atty. Topacio.
His client was clearly given the opportunity to cross-examine Raymart’s witnesses and they did through Atty. Cabatingan.
Whether the cross-examination turned good or bad is beyond Raymart, his lawyers, and the court.