Gretchen Barretto's Legal Counsel Gets Back At Claudine For "Unfair" InsinuationsAtty. Alma Mallonga, Gretchen's legal counsel who is now handling the case of Claudine's personal assistant Dessa Cadelario Patilan, answered the actress' allegations that she was ordered by Gretchen to take on Dessa's case.
Claudine questioned the motive behind Atty. Mallonga's pro bono work for Dessa, who accused the actress of stealing more than P13,000 worth of money and gadgets from her since the actress believed her PA owe her for stealing expensive things before.
Claudine put Dessa in jail back in May. She has been there for five months. Atty. Mallonga took the case in September, about the same time Claudine's fight against estranged husband Raymart Santiago and sisters Gretchen and Marjorie gained fire again.
The actress earlier said she is ready to forgive Dessa if she will only ask for forgiveness. She expressed how sad she was because her former PA was being used by Gretchen against her. Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Claudine's legal counsel, already questioned the motive behind the theft raps filed against his client.
Since Dessa was imprisoned back in May, why didn't she reveal these accusations then? She only had the gall to accuse Claudine of something like that when she was already being represented by Atty. Mallonga, Claudine's camp believed.
Atty. Mallonga, however, maintained Dessa is her pro bono client. She only admitted that it was Gretchen who turned her attention to Dessa, but the actress never ordered or instructed her to take on that particular case.
The lawyer believed Dessa has the right to a credible defense, and Atty. Mallonga just wants to give the 19-year-old a chance to have a life again. She believed she was wrongly accused of stealing Claudine's money and other expensive things.
Gretchen, Atty. Mallonga said, was just concerned about Dessa because this wouldn't be the first time Claudine accused someone in their household for theft. She already filed several cases of theft against former househelpers.
"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."
After talking with Dessa, Atty. Mallonga was convinced the former PA was wrongly accused of the crime. She then asked her law firm, the Siguion-Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako, if she could take the client as pro bono. They agreed.
This isn't the first time for the lawyer to work in a pro bono case. Currently, there are four lawyers in the law office working on Dessa's case.
Atty. Mallonga explained and reiterated she doesn't take orders or instructions from Gretchen.
She answered Atty. Topacio's question as to why Dessa only filed the theft case against Claudine now, which is five months from the time she was put in jail. Atty. Mallonga said Dessa was not aware she has the right to file those charges until they became her lawyer.
They filed the cases against Claudine because they believed there was a strong and factual basis to it, the lawyer said. What the actress should do is answer the allegations if she did indeed take money that was not hers but was Dessa's instead. It wouldn't help her case if she would malign their law firm or Gretchen, Atty. Mallonga said.
"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."
She then gets back at Claudine by saying her case is also being handled by Atty. Topacio in a pro bono capacity. She is certainly not a pauper, the lawyer said, then why would their motives be questioned if she and Atty. Topacio were only doing the same thing.