MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Atong Ang officially joined the frenzy surrounding the ongoing feud in the Barretto clan. (TIMELINE: The Barretto family feud)
Ang granted an exclusive interview to broadcaster Noli de Castro, which was aired on TV Patrol Thursday evening, October 24. All in all, the interview ran for over 12 minutes, a considerable chunk of ABS-CBN's flagship news program.
Ang is no stranger to controversy. But this time, his name has made headlines after several members of the Barretto clan – sisters Gretchen, Marjorie, Claudine and their nieces – fought during the wake of Barretto patriarch Miguel. (READ: Here’s a summary of Marjorie Barretto’s ‘tell-all’ interview)
Here's a summary of the interview:
His relationship with the Barrettos
Ang has long been hounded by rumors that he is involved romantically to several members of the Barretto clan. He's been linked to sisters Gretchen and Claudine, and their niece Nicole. It was Marjorie herself who said Ang was Nicole's boyfriend of almost 5 years.
He insisted that his links to Gretchen are only because of business. He added that he also does business with Tonyboy Cojuangco, Gretchen's longtime partner.
He explained his links to Claudine, the youngest of the Barretto sisters, saying he helped her mend ties with a family he happens to be close to.
But he did skirt around the question of whether Nicole was his girlfriend. "Siyempre hindi naman tama sa lalaki, ako pa magsasabi girlfriend ko siya (It wouldn't sound right for me, the man, to say if she was my girlfriend or not)," he said.
Ang earlier claimed Nicole was his secretary. But Marjorie, in an earlier exclusive interview also aired on TV Patrol, said Ang had been close to the family precisely because he was Nicole's partner. Marjorie added that Nicole might not even have been 18 when she entered into a relationship with Ang.
Why he was at the wake
Ang said it was the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) themselves who asked that Gretchen be there – never mind that her ties with her family had long been strained at that point.
The PMS is in charge of arranging the President's affairs.
Ang said Cojuangco wasn't feeling well and had asked Ang to accompany Gretchen.
Marjorie had claimed it was Ang's supposed orders that caused tensions to rise during the wake. She claimed Ang asked his daughter to call Nicole and ask the Barretto brood – Nicole and her cousins – to leave since he and Gretchen were going to the wake. President Rodrigo Duterte was going there too.
The businessman confirmed that he did ask his daughter to call Nicole ahead of time, but only to warn them and say that if they didn't want to see Gretchen, they were free to stay away from her.
He confirmed that Duterte tried to reconcile Gretchen and Marjorie – he also confirmed that it ended in vain. Ang said that he only intervened as tensions rose to protect Gretchen and the President.
Gretchen has long been estranged from the rest of her family, including her parents. It was during the wake that Gretchen and her mother, Inday, saw each other for the first time in a very long time.
Gretchen used to be estranged from Claudine but they have since mended ties.