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Former Ambassador Francisco Ortigas III has tacitly admitted to his estranged wife's accusation that he had taken liberties with the female household staff, but not to keeping his wife's classmate and best friend as his concubine.
"I may have ventured into boyish adventurism; however, all of them (had been) forgiven and condoned by the complainant," said Ortigas, 65, dismissing in a single sentence the lengthy narration of his wife, Madrigal heiress Susana Bayot, 63, about her catching her Jesuit-educated husband twice in motels with a different maid each time.
As to his allegedly being caught in a female superior-position with his wife's best friend and Ortigas' executive assistant in Mexico, Ma. Antonia Legarda, 64, right in Legarda's bedroom, the diplomat-lawyer turned legalistic: "(The Pasig Prosecutor's Office) does not have the power or authority to even determine the existence of probable cause as the alleged criminal act, assuming it to be true, took place outside of the jurisdiction of the Philippines and is an act done not in the exercise and/or performance of my function as an Ambassador."
Ortigas and Legarda, who continued to be employed as Ortigas' executive assistant over the wife's objections, were absent in Tuesday's continuation of the preliminary investigation by Assistant Pasig City Prosecutor Joselito de Asis, having submitted their counter-affidavits the day before to evade newsmen.
Ortigas also had a simple explanation as to why his wife of 43 years filed the concubinage complaint.
"Stripped to its core, the instant criminal complaint is a legal maneuver designed to compel me to mechanically sign a quitclaim which complainant presented to me in the early part of 2011," Ortigas said, apparently referring to his refusal to give in to his wife's demand, with their marriage on the rocks, to safeguard the Madrigal side's paraphernal properties.
Ortigas admitted that his late mother-in-law, Josefina Madrigal-Bayot, "financially assisted us" right after marrying her daughter in 1968 by buying a three-bedroom bungalow close to Santa Clara University where the new son-in-law was then studying for his MBA degree.
"My family is not as similarly landed as the Madrigal-Bayots," Ortigas said, as his father only owned about 15 percent of the Ortigas Company Ltd. Partnership, the developer of Greenhills and Tiendesitas.
Saying he was raised to converse in Spanish and English, Ortigas claimed he could not have possibly regularly ridiculed his wife, as she has alleged, as tanga (stupid) or bobo (dolt).
"Sad to say, complainant must have confused me with herself as she is the one who is in the habit of uttering those words especially when she screams at the maids," Ortigas said.
And contrary to his wife's claim that he was a tightwad who refused to pay any household expense beyond P30,000, Ortigas declared: "I was not raised in the belief that wealth is without bounds, unlike complainant who lived as if the well of money will never run dry."
Still, Ortigas maintained that he helped pay the household bills, travel expenses and even the maintenance of the family helicopter, and that his wife's claim of economic abuse is a "product of cerebral fecundity."
Ortigas said he allowed Legarda to continue to live in the Luntala townhouse complex in Valle Verde that is co-owned by his estranged wife as part of Legarda's compensation and that his wife had prior consent for the live-in arrangement.
"Even assuming that I stayed at Luntala for prurient reasons, such stay cannot be labeled as cohabitation," Ortigas said. "I have been advised that 'the term cohabit means to dwell together, in the manner of husband and wife, for some period of time, as distinguished from occasional, transient interviews for unlawful intercourse'."
Legarda: 'Best friend' manufactured scandal
Marian Legarda has come out swinging against her Assumption classmate and benefactor, calling Susie Bayot's concubinage and illicit affair allegations against her as products of "fertile imagination, unfounded jealousy and blatant fabrications designed to force co-respondent Paqui to capitulate to her demands by portraying me as the 'other woman' in her concocted scenario."
Legarda in her sworn statement also said that her Chilean companion, who is said to be 20 years younger than her, and who has since returned home to his homeland was not her boyfriend but actually her "husband."
"Contrary to complainant Susie's claim that she treated me 'as a guest', in her absence, her household staff virtually ignored (me and my husband)," Legarda, who was a bridesmaid to the Ortigas wedding in 1968, said of her stay in the North Greenhills home of Paqui and Susie Ortigas.
"Nene, her maid, pointedly told us not to expect anything to be prepared for us, so that that we were not offered any food and we had to eat out every day, we had to wash our own clothes, we had to go to an internet cafe to use a computer and took taxis to wherever we wanted to go, even when the drivers were just lounging in the house and there were vehicles parked in the garage," Legarda said.
Legarda, who has been retained by Paqui Ortigas as general manager of his and his wife's Suzy Q Corp., said the $150,000 that Susie had wired her was for a botched flower shop venture with her in Las Vegas.
Even then, $120,000 of that amount had already been repaid, she added.
Contrary to Susie's claim that she had been deported by US authorities, Legarda said she and her Chilean husband flew to Manila to arrange for her investor visa, which never came, and that she decided to accept Paqui's offer, with the intercession of friends Joey and Jenny Leviste, to become his confidential secretary in Mexico.
"Complainant Susie never really showed much interest in helping solve my immigration problem," she said. "Even more surprising to me was the fact that during our stay in her Greenhills house, not once did she call (from Mexico) to ask how we were doing."
"When she did call, she only talked to her maid and did not ask to talk to me, which I found really strange, considering that at that time, we were friends, if not 'best friends'," Legarda said.
Email Vic Agustin at email@example.com.