Toni Gonzaga defends ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ housemate who supported ABS-CBN shut down

Host Toni Gonzaga and evicted housemate Russu Lauente. Photos: Gonzaga/IG and PBB handout
Host Toni Gonzaga and evicted housemate Russu Lauente. Photos: Gonzaga/IG and PBB handout

Host Toni Gonzaga yesterday defended an evicted Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) housemate who publicly supported the shut down of ABS-CBN, the company that produces the reality show.

Gonzaga’s statement, shared on her Instagram page, appeared shortly after Russu Laurente became the second housemate to be kicked out of the yellow PBB house. Laurente was nominated for eviction alongside Crismar Menchavez— another contestant who supported ABS-CBN’s closure—and Aizyl Tandugon. The General Santos City native received just 4.39% of viewers’ votes, which landed him in third place.

The host, who has been accused of being a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, said that Laurente was kicked out “because of a mistake” that he had committed. She added that at 19 years old, the former housemate didn’t “know the gravity of [the] words” that he had said in public.

Read: Cayetano defends ABS-CBN shutdown, claims media giant played ‘fast and loose’ with law

“He has learned his lesson, and this will help him grow and [become] mature in life. And now that he knows better, he will do better. May this also serve as a reminder for us to not define and label a person by the mistakes [that] they’ve committed but from how they rise up, rebuild and become a better person,” Gonzaga wrote.

Prior to joining PBB, Laurente posted a tweet where he called for the closure of ABS-CBN. Using the hashtag “#YestoABSCBNShutDown,” he told the network “not to test” Duterte.

Laurente confessed on the show that he once supported the closure of the broadcasting giant, but said he did so out of ignorance.

“When I didn’t know the entire back story and I haven’t seen how sad my actor friends were, [I supported the shut down of] ABS-CBN. I was swayed by the emotions of netizens who were really angry [at ABS-CBN],” he said during a confession with Kuya, PBB’s omniscient narrator.

Read: Duterte calls ABS-CBN a ‘thief’ and promises to block renewal of its license

Laurente said he changed his mind only after getting to know ABS-CBN’s remaining workers. The company had to retrench thousands of employees after it failed to secure a new broadcasting license.

The network was shut down by the government in July 2020 for allegedly committing a slew of violations. Many have said, however, that the closure was politically motivated because Duterte accused the company of broadcasting stories that portrayed his government in a negative light.

Despite its closure, several ABS-CBN shows are being broadcast on A2Z Channel 11, where it is a block timer. Some of its shows are also streamed on the internet.

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