MANILA, Philippines — A witness to the incident between actor Raymart Santiago and journalist Mon Tulfo, last May 7th at the Ninoy Aquino Internation Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3, has agreed to to be interviewed by So, What’s News on conditions of anonymity, because of fear for his life.
Chester, not his real name, told us that he was there right from the start when the incident started and was also on the same flight as Tulfo’s.
Actor Raymart Santiago and journalist Mon Tulfo got into a fist fight Sunday afternoon at the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
In an interview with dzMM, Tulfo said he just arrived from Davao onboard a Cebu Pacific flight when he saw a familiar face at the arrival area reprimanding a flight attendant. (from ABS-CBN News)
Chester corroborated Tulfo’s statement, and said that Raymart’s wife, actress Claudine Barretto indeed got mad at Tulfo when he began aiming his cellphone at her like he was either taking a photo or a video.
“Nagalit agad si Claudine kasi pahorizontal ang paghawak nya sa cellphone nya. Nainsulto siguro kasi naka-landscape mode (Claudine immediately got mad because he was holding his cellphone horizontally. I think she got insulted because it was in landscape mode),” revealed Chester.
“Right then and there, she pointed her index finger at Tulfo and commanded her husband to sic and attack the journalist,” continued the witness. “When Tulfo refused to give his cellphone to Raymart, that’s when the fight started and all hell broke lose.”
We called up Mon Tulfo to verify the witness’s story and according to him, it’s true. “Sinubukan kong kunan yung matrona ng naka-portrait mode. Kaso hindi sya magkasya sa screen eh, kaya ginawa ko nalang landscape mode (I tried to shoot the matron in portrait mode. But she didn’t fit the screen, so I changed it to landscape mode).”
The fact that the uploader of the video of the brawl on Youtube did not get punched or strangled because her footage was in portrait-mode, lends credence to the witness’s testimony.
When asked why he didn’t come out publicly to testify, Chester expressed fear for his life because of the recent developments that occurred to Alfred Mendiola. Mendiola was the star witness in the Dominguez carjacking case and ironically was under the witness protection program.
Alfred Mendiola, a suspect turned witness in the murder of car dealer Venson Evangelista, was found dead in Cavite on Sunday.
Arsenio Evangelista, father of Venson, said police told him that Mendiola and two others were found gagged and tied in Barangay Salawag, Dasmariñas.
He said the other murder victims were identified as Eriberto Jumaquio and Mark Angelo Herrera.
The victims sustained gunshot wounds to their heads. (from ABS-CBN News)
Chester would not be the only witness who chose to keep what they know to themselves instead of revealing the truth. Members of the pop-rock band Itchyworms has also backtracked their earlier eyewitness accounts of the incident via Twitter. Full story can be found here.
Chester was offered to be put under the witness protection program but backed-out at the last minute because of the news. His friends advised him not to push through with his press conference and revelations, saying that “it was not worth it”.
Malacañang has said that there is still room for improvements when it comes to the country’s witness protection program. First on the list is the plan to rename the program so as to avoid litigation from the family of a witness who might be harmed or killed.
“We have failed on the ‘witness protection’ part thus the name change,” said Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte. “We might call it the Witness Satisfaction Program instead, because without the word protection, we are not bound to preserve his or her life.”
To persuade would-be star witnesses into the new program, and avoiding the scenario where one would opt-out of it, Valte revealed that “the Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into implementing better accommodations, scrumptious meals and maybe additional perks like iPads and cash incentives for would be star witnesses.”
Valte is confident that the numbers of witnesses willing to testify would increase after the changes has been implemented.