GMA 7 to sue Sarah Lahbati
MANILA, Philippines—GMA Network maintained on Wednesday its earlier stand that actress Sarah Lahbati violated her contract prompting the network to sue her for breach of contract.
In a statement released on Wednesday, GMA addressed all issues raised by Lahbati – starting from her posts in the social networking and microblogging site Twitter, which were eventually picked-up by the press.
“Sarah Lahbati’s Artist Management Contract with GMA Network is effective until February 21, 2015. There is no provision for leave of absence in said contract. Any leave is subject to prior agreement between the Network and Sarah. Therefore, Sarah’s unilateral decision to go on leave, despite its earlier disapproval by the Network, is a violation of her contract with the Network. Further, her declared trip to Switzerland for an indefinite period, without the prior consent and approval of the Network, will be an additional violation of her contract.
“Despite the rejection of her leave, she ceased to honor her commitments with the Network including her being part of the Network’s Sunday variety show “Party Pilipinas.” Under the provisions of her contract with the Network, specifically Paragraphs 1.3 and 1.4, it is clearly stated that the ‘artist shall perform the role and appear in the television programs, projects and events assigned to her, and conscientiously fulfill faithfully and promptly any and all engagements/booking contracted to her by GMA.’”
On Lahbati’s request to be released from her contract with GMA Artist Center (GMAAC), the Kapuso Network said: “It must be clarified that GMAAC has no legal personality apart from the Network, and that Lahbati’s contract is with GMA Network and not with GMAAC. In the same way that a contract requires the mutual consent of the two parties, there cannot also be a unilateral cancellation of the contract by Sarah alone.”
For any violation of her contract with GMA, Paragraph 5.2 states that “In the event of violation by artist… GMA may, in addition to and without prejudice to any other remedy, recover liquidated damages from artist in the amount equivalent to double artist’s minimum guarantee.”
Regarding the issue of the supposed referral by some Network executives to ICONS Management, GMA reiterates its earlier statement that it did not authorize the co-management contract with ICONS Management. Concrete actions have been taken and penalties have been imposed on the executives who were found liable.
“GMA found no proof of her allegation that there was an ‘under the table’ deal between GMAAC and ICONS Management. The Network has a policy of prohibiting and penalizing any such ‘under the table’ deal between any of its executives and employees and others dealing with the Network. This policy is strictly enforced and implemented,” the statement said.
“If Lahbati can prove later her accusation against ICONS and GMAAC, the Network will not only stop dealing with ICONS but will also penalize those who are guilty of such anomaly,” it added.
“Lahbati also mentioned that non-ICONS talents like her are treated unfairly. The Network’s substantial investment in her easily belies this. On top of her being a home-grown exclusive talent of GMA, whom the Network developed, trained and promoted, she is also one of the Network’s priority stars.
“GMA artists like Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Heart Evangelista, Jennylyn Mercado, and other bigger stars than Sarah who are also non-ICONS talents are not complaining about the treatment they are getting from the Network.
“Interestingly, it was after the Network required Sarah to cancel her illegal co-management contract with Royal Era Entertainment & Artist Management of Annabelle Rama, the mother of Sarah’s current boyfriend, Richard Gutierrez, that she unilaterally declared her going on a one-month leave of absence and started to complain about GMAAC. The co-management contract violated the exclusive terms of Sarah’s contract with the Network. GMA Network would have had no choice but to sue Sarah and Royal Era Entertainment for the said breach had they refused to rescind said co-management contract.
“Lahbati also tweeted that GMA has yet to pay her for the movie ‘Basement.’”
“I don’t owe GMA any money, in fact they still owe me. I finished filming a movie called ‘Basement’ under GMA films, we started around August-early sept… until now I still haven’t been paid not even a down payment. My mother asked my handler many times regarding the payment and until now there is no reply,” Lahbati’s tweet said.
“It was made clear to Lahbati at the onset that her talent fee will be disbursed after she completes filming. The contract was sent to her in mid-October but she was on vacation and the signed contract was returned to GMA Films only on December 14, 2012. But given the Network’s year-end cut-off for payment processing, requests received after December 10 will only be paid on January 11, 2013. As a special concession, however, the check was made available on January 4, 2013. The delay in the processing of her payment can only be attributed to Sarah because she did not immediately return the signed contract to GMA Films.”
On Lahbati accusing GMA of making a one sided story about what’s happening, GMA said, “There is absolutely no truth to this. HOT TV, thru its researcher Malou Santiago, contacted Sarah’s handler, Monica Carla Sevillano, who, in turn, coordinated with Sarah to get her side before the story was aired. Unfortunately, HOT TV did not receive any response from Sarah.”
GMA Network has concluded its investigation on Lahbati’s walk-out incident in the taping of the Network’s new primetime program “Indio.”
GMA said based on the said investigation, Lahbati, without any justifiable reason and following only the instructions of Annabelle Rama – whom she had illegally signed up then as her co-manager – walked out of the November 9 taping of “Indio” in Morong Park, Subic, Olongapo City.
In her earlier tweets, Lahbati mentioned that “GMA Artist Center decided to book me for opening of Eat ‘Bulaga’ the following day which required me to be in the studio at 8 a.m. to do hair, make-up and rehearse the production number. I never walked out, I told the producers and p.a. (production assistant) that I need to go because I still had to travel back to Manila from Subic and be at ‘Eat Bulaga’ studio by 8 a.m.… I did not leave the set, I waited for the producers to say that I can leave… I had permission to leave. This is the complete truth.”
Upon investigation, GMA said “it was found that GMAAC was not aware of any early morning booking on November 10. As confirmed by its records, the only schedule GMAAC had for Lahbati on that day was a technical rehearsal for ‘Party Pilipinas’ set at 4pm. Further, it was on November 24 – two weeks after the walk-out incident – when she finally appeared in ‘Eat Bulaga.’”
GMA added the production team of “Indio” did not “give Sarah the permission to leave early. Contrary to what she mentioned in her tweets, they persuaded her to stay and finish her scenes but to no avail. As a result, the production team was forced to pack up the taping and incur substantial, additional and unnecessary costs.”
“The Network has endorsed the matter to Belo, Gozon, Elma, Parel, Asuncion and Lucila (BGE Law) for the filing of a complaint against Lahbati so that the court may determine who between the parties is correct, telling the truth or lying,” GMA said.
“After the complaint is filed in court, the Network will no longer publicly comment on the case except through the pleadings filed in court, in compliance with the rule on ‘sub-judice’, to avoid influencing the decision the court may render on the case,” GMA added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.