It’s going to be a long, tumultuous custody battle between Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto.
Both camps have been quiet about their cases for almost a month now, but a source who moves in the estranged couple’s inner circle said a lot has transpired since December last year.
First off, the petition for TPO (Temporary Protection Order) filed by Claudine against Raymart in July has been "lifted insofar as the children are concerned."
This means, the Kapuso actor has been given the go signal by the court to contact and visit Sabina and Santino.
THE VISITS THAT NEVER WERE. In most of Raymart’s interviews late last year, he was vocal about his wish to see his nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.
In an article posted on Sun Star Manila last October 26, Raymart said, "Gusto kong mangyari ay makita yung mga anak ko, magkaayos kahit papaano.
“Makasama nang mas matagal, dahil kahit papaano, Tatay pa rin nila ako.
“Kung anong problema naming mag-asawa, labas na sila.”
But according to a source of PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) the actor has been having “problems” with his visitation rights.
Although he was given the chance to see them twice during the holidays, the source said Raymart had waited in vain.
The alleged reason: His estranged wife was supposedly far from obliging.
Her alleged reason: The kids supposedly didn’t want to see their father.
The source also said that Claudine took videos of Sabina and Santino showing their refusal to see Raymart, despite prodding from the nannies.
In the first visit, the actor waited in vain, while the kids were reportedly playing video games, according to the source.
In the second visit, the kids didn’t show up because Claudine had taken them to a resort, the source said.
There was another opportunity to see them this year, but it was another futile attempt.
The third visit was supposed to have taken place on the 4th floor of the Marikina Regional Trial Court.
A witness told PEP, “Nasa loob sila ng room pero wala po yatang nangyari kasi nakabantay sina Ms. Claudine."
The source added, "Wala pang minutes," because Claudine was there and the children allegedly kept looking at her.
To date, the source said all efforts of Raymart to see Sabina and Santino have not been successful.
MRS. INDAY BARRETTO CLARIFIES ALLEGATIONS. In an attempt to get Claudine’s side of the story, PEP called the actress’s mom, Estrella "Inday" Barretto, on January 25.
She initially said, "She [Claudine] will no longer speak. There's a gag order."
But since, "I was a witness to it [the incident]. People were witness to it," she decided to "correct" the source's story.
The visit or “incident” took place on January 17.
Mrs. Inday said she and her daughter brought the kids to the Marikina Regional Trial Court.
"The judge agreed, 'Samahan na lang ni Claudine.'
"Sinamahan namin, lahat kami,” Mrs. Inday narrated.
"She accompanied [them] because the kids won't go, but she was in another room.
"On the way, [Santino] was nakabuntot kay Claudine. Matutumba na si Claudine. Nakakapit siya sa puwet ni Claudine sa likod... it was traumatic," she said.
The visit, according to Mrs. Inday, lasted for "two hours."
But in between, "Takbo mga bata, 'Where's my mom?' O binalik na naman ang mga kids back and forth, back and forth...
"Claudine wasn 't even there. She was outside. Lumayo siya. She was in the car,” Mrs. Inday said.
"Raymart came out, nagkita pa kami."
She stressed, "Claudine was not there to stop them.
"The lawyers, the DSWD saw them.
"Whether they believe it or not that's their problem."
With regard to the visits during the holiday season, Mrs. Inday said they were supposed to have taken place on December 25 and January 1.
"I know about the visitations, but where was Raymart?
"We were there [during] the holidays.
"It was Christmas Day, where was he? Claudine has not said anything na hindi [puwedeng bumisita].
"Yung mga bata, ayaw...
"Hindi natuloy. I dunno why. Where was he?
"That's really beyond our control."
Refering to the source's claims, "Wala silang alam. Yung mundo outside, they don't know. I know because I see it and we have proof. Sobra na sila.
"[On] the side of Claudine, if you must remember, [we have] not said anything because we are also of the same sentiment na tama na. Wala nang pakialam ang mga tao. Sukang-suka na yung mga tao sa ganun."
THE KIDS’ ATTITUDE TOWARDS RAYMART. The actor, the source added, has a more pressing problem—the possible impact of the couple’s feud on their kids, Sabina and Santino.
Before the hullabaloo, the source said the 37-year-old star was never remiss in his fatherly duties even after leaving their Loyola Grand Villas home on March 17, 2013.
And in his counter-affidavit submitted to the Prosecutor's Office of Marikina on September 24, 2013, he stated that he spent time with the kids regularly, and he “never ceased to provide financial support to our children.”
Raymart elaborated: “I paid for the children’s full tuition and deposited the amount of Two Hundred Thousand (Php200,000.00) from April to June 2013 and One Hundred Thousand (Php100,000.00) in July 2013, as evidenced by the entries in the bankbook of our joint account and a deposit slip, copies of which are hereto attached and marked as Annexes ‘36,’ ’37’ and ‘38’”
In the same affidavit, Raymart said that his relationship with the kids then was very okay.
But Claudine’s post on Instagram last October 19, 2013, suggested otherwise.
Sabina’s message for the 34-year-old star: “You’re the best mom, I want to stay with you not Papa, I love you.”
And based on the kids' reaction to their dad, the source said that one of Raymart’s major concerns now is to be closer to his kids.
In previous interviews, the actor described the intermittent feuds in court as “hindi maganda para sa mga bata.”
“SOBRANG FEELING” LAWYERS. The actress’s last post about the issue was via Twitter last January 17.
She and her legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio did not give much detail.
Even one of Raymart’s lawyers, Atty. Ruth Castelo, chose not to issue a statement.
The source said it had something to do with the hearing—the same day that Claudine chose to post on Twitter.
Claudine was said to be in a bad mood that day. According to one witness, the actress even shouted at the companions of Raymart.
The source identified one of the companions as "Atty. Ruth Castelo."
Regarding this, Mrs. Inday commented, "People want to take your children away from you, some people can kill."
In a text message sent on January 26, we asked Atty. Ruth Castelo to comment on the mood of Claudine that day, but she declined to issue any statement.
Meanwhile, the source added, “The TPO was lifted already.”
On January 20, PEP Senior Writer Arniel Serato verified this development through Atty. Topacio, who simply replied that it was “modified.”
When asked about the claim of the source on Raymart’s visitation problems, he declined to comment.
Atty. Castelo, on the other hand, sent this brief statement via text on January 27:
"With the recent amendment of the TPO, we expect Ms. Barretto to comply with the orders of the court or be ready for the repercussions in case of defiance. Mr. Santiago will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action to make sure that the orders are faithfully enforced."'
Should any of the parties involved decide to issue any additional statement, PEP will readily publish it.