Gozon: GMA 7 will not release Sarah until her contract expires in 2015


ACTRESS Sarah Lahbati with boyfriend Richard Gutierrez . FACEBOOK PHOTO

GMA 7 boss Felipe L. Gozon said on Wednesday the network would do “everything in its power to enforce its contract” with actress Sarah Lahbati until it ends on Feb. 21, 2015.

“We don’t want our other artists to do what Sarah did to us,” Gozon said in an exclusive interview with the Inquirer. “She demanded that we rescind the contract—pinapangunahan kami (she’s preempting us). We intend to honor the contract until it expires.”

Gozon, president and CEO of the Kapuso network, said that Lahbati’s decision to go on indefinite leave without the network’s approval was “a sign of discourtesy” and a violation of her talent contract.

“We don’t want it to start a precedent in matters such as these,” Gozon said. “We have other talents. They would think it’s easy to just leave GMA 7 when they want to. Gano’n lang pala ’yon (Just like that). We’re all reasonable people. If a contract artist wants to discuss something with us, we’re very much willing to listen.”

‘Under-the-table deals’

Lahbati accused the Kapuso network on Twitter last Monday of engaging in “under-the-table deals” in  the management of its talents.

She asked the network to release her and rescind her contract with GMA Artist Center (GMAAC), “if GMA is releasing all this bad publicity about me and saying that I have bad behavior.”

An investment

GMA 7, however, is not bent on doing just that. Gozon pointed out the network had “invested” in Lahbati by “spending for her training, workshops, promotions and even on styling her.”

GMA 7 CEO and president Felipe Gozon. ROMY HOMILLADA

According to him, the network considers all its talents “raw diamonds that needed polishing. We attend to their needs and, in turn, we benefit from them.”

Gozon added: “I don’t want to speculate on whether (Annabelle) Rama influenced her to talk against the network. However, I am aware that Sarah is now the girlfriend of Rama’s son (Richard Gutierrez) and that she signed an agreement with Rama.”

The network said Lahbati had entered into “an illegal” co-management contract with Royal Era Entertainment & Artist Management, owned by Rama.

Preggy issue

Gozon, meanwhile, refused to comment on the rumor that Gutierrez has gotten the actress pregnant. Lahbati’s delicate condition allegedly prompted her parents to send her to Switzerland.

“We don’t know that for a fact. In any case, actresses who had to leave work to give birth were able to get  back to us without fuss,” Gozon said. “We do not force our talents to work if they no longer can. There’s no issue we cannot resolve by sitting down and talking.”

Going to court 

Also on Wednesday, the network said it would file a court case against Lahbati  for breach of contract and “to determine who between the two parties is correct, telling the truth or lying.”

In a statement sent to the Inquirer, the network said it had “endorsed the matter” to its lawyers, and that it would “no longer publicly comment on the case (after the complaint has been filed in court), except through court pleadings.”

The GMA 7 statement also addressed all the issues that the 19-year-old actress raised on her Twitter account in the past week, starting with her decision to take a break from work and leave for Switzerland to continue her studies.

The network pointed out that Lahbati’s contract has no provision for leave of absence. “Any leave is subject to prior agreement between the network and Sarah. Therefore, Sarah’s unilateral decision to go on leave, despite the network’s disapproval, is a violation of her contract.”


Gozon also told the Inquirer that GMA 7 “never authorized any co-management contracts with Icons in relation to our exclusive talents.”

However, he said the network allows co-management in the case of artists who already “have managers and still choose to join our group.”

Lahbati earlier claimed that GMA Films president Annette Gozon-Abrogar and GMAAC head for talent management Arsi Baltazar tried to convince her to sign a contract with Icons, another talent management outfit headed by Bebong Muñoz and Andrew Dee.

Lahbati said she turned down the offer “because we didn’t know Muñoz and Dee, plus the deduction of 40 percent was too steep.”

GMAAC already deducts 25 percent from the take-home pay of each of its talents. Another 15 percent of her salary  would go to Icons had she agreed to its co-management contract.

Penalized execs

In its statement, the network further said “concrete actions have been taken and penalties have been imposed on the executives who were found liable.”

GMA7 added that it found “no proof of (Lahbati’s) allegation that there was an ‘under-the-table deal’ between GMAAC and Icons.”

No basis

Icons, in a statement, said Lahbati’s claim had “no factual basis.” The talent management group added that while its lawyers already said  “it has sufficient evidence to file a criminal case” against Lahbati, it would “not resort to the courts at this point … in the spirit of goodwill.”

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  • M C

    Even mothers in the government service are allowed to go on maternity leave. Now, GMA wants us to believe that they created a contract that allows no leave? Then, that contract is null and void, ab initio for it violates essential elements of morals and fair play. Disallowing leave carte blanche to anyone in a work environment smacks of slavery. Besides, at this point, it is still in the stage of preliminary investigation which is under the aegis of a Fiscal yet. After a Fiscal finds probable cause, it is submitted for resolution.  Whether the matter goes to the Court or dismissed for lack of merit can only be resolved after due process – and that requires a reply from the artist. Hence, the matter is not yet in the courts so flaunting the spectre of the “sub judice” is rather a subtle way to silence negative public feedbacks against the network and create fear to the artist who may in no position to understand the nuances of the local judicial system.

    • ThudOthwacker

      Maternity leave was not one of the reasons Sarah gave to GMA. In fact the pregnant issue is just an unconfirmed rumor.  

      “Hence, the matter is not yet in the courts so flaunting the spectre of the “sub judice” ” ~M C

      “Sub judice” means “under judgement”. For your information, there is no violation of the “Sub Judice” rule. To understand it better. Google “Romero, et al. v. Estrada, et al., G.R. No. 174105, 2 April 2009″. The Supreme Court held that the sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial “PROCEEDINGS” to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. 

      As of the time of interview, they haven’t file the case. Everything you written so far are unsubstantiated or hogwash.

    • pakita_ko_sayo

       Unconfirmed naman yung pregnancy. Bakit napasok dito usapan? Tsismis lang yun para maka alis yung babae sa GMA-7 sa mga pinagsasabi niya contra network.

    • Heartrob ng Pugad Baboy

      They didn’t say she can’t go on vacation.  It said both parties, GMA and Miss Labati needs to agree.  

      Di pwede naman yung basta basta ka na lang aalis para magbakasyon without taking care of your work commitments.

  • p00rd0y

    ahahahaha… sayang kagwapa,,, bugok pala…..

  • Iggy Ramirez

    What’s the big deal with this girl? Everyone is dispensable, or disposable, such as the practice of the networks. Just let her go. It’s making GMA pathetic and desperate as if GMA would not run if Sarah Labati were not there.. It’s not about contract. It’s about dignity and pride. Sadly, GMA has misplaced those feelings.

    • Heartrob ng Pugad Baboy

      GMA will look soft and easily manipulated by their artist if they give in to any of their contracted employee.  It any business negotiation, which this is to some extent, you need to take away emotion and make a decision base on what’s best for your business.  That’s what GMA is doing.

      • Iggy Ramirez

        But it now appears that what is happening is exactly the opposite of what they want.

        They are losing dignity every time they go after this girl, who I did not even know until about a couple of days ago.

        It’s not about being soft or easily manipulated. They have tons of artists at their disposal and going after some talentless personality in a disturbingly vindictive way is both a cause of concern for other talents and factor for reluctance for future ones.

    • goavan

      on the other hand, its all about the contract.  remember, contracts has only legal personalities just like corporations but don’t understand what dignity and pride is.  simply said, there is a need to enforce the provisions of the contract.  however, 2 parties can rescind the contract, if both parties agrees to do it…in this case ayaw ng gma. morale lesson of the story wag magpabuntis ng wala sa oras

      • samarutan

        thanks for pointing out that contracts has (sic) legal personalities.

      • goavan

        absolutely…mukhang absent ka sa klase

      • samarutan

        most probably. again, thank you.

      • Iggy Ramirez

        Yeah. You’re right.

        The real problem here is this talentless “talent” who is dumb and who thinks she is bigger than her head.

  • Pepe Alas

    Más naquilala si Lahbati sa controversiang itó quesa sa cung anó mang pinág-gagawá niyá sa TV.

  • tea tinio

    sara labhati daw. nagsimula sa bhati… then bee jay then booom boooom pow! ayan contract breach. dapat si gozon daw muna.

  • Jaz ForLaughs


    Nakakaloka ang network na ito. Sa halip na tutukan ang pagpapasikat
    at matinong pagma-manage ng nameless and star value-less nilang artists,
    naka-focus sa isang unknown.


    Habang lumilipad ang mga Coco Martin, Daniel Padilla, Kathryn
    Bernardo, Julia Montes, Paolo Avelino, John Lloyd Cruz at Anne Curtis ng
    ABS-CBN, ito ang pinagkakaabalahan ng GMA – pagsasampa ng kabi-kabilang kaso  sa isang starlet; paglalabas ng press releases
    upang ibagsak ang isang taong nasa baba naman to begin with.

    Eh ni “Sosy Problems” ‘di nga raw natapos. Kasi nga kung anu-ano yatang inaatupag.

    Pathetic.  Just pathetic.
    Mabuhay Kapamilya! Kapuso… gumising na kayo bago mahuli ang lahat. Kayo rin… anjan na ang ABC5!

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