Do some people’s honest opinions just court controversy, or do they spew out controversial comments for public attention?
Entertainment reporter Jobert Sucaldito, a former employee of ABS-CBN radio station DZMM, claimed yesterday in an interview that the media giant was just using its employees to gain public sympathy, in the days following its forced shutdown.
“You’re also using the people in your ranks, using them to your advantage, so people can say, oh, take pity on the 11,000 [ABS-CBN] employees,” Sucaldito said in English and Filipino in an interview on DZAR, a radio station owned by the controversial Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a long-time buddy of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Quiboloy is the same guy who claimed that he was able to stop the Mindanao earthquakes in October, and whose church members were accused of immigration fraud in the U.S. early this year.
Sucaldito was fired from DZMM weeks after he cracked a rather tasteless and very public suicide joke about actress Nadine Lustre, an act widely criticized by netizens and by Lustre herself. Sucaldito issued a public apology in January, shortly after he cracked the joke.
Despite this, he insisted that he’s against ABS-CBN’s shutdown, but had a few cutting words for his former employer, which was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on May 5, a day after its broadcasting franchise expired.
“I’ve worked with ABS[-CBN] almost 20 years, 17 years on DZMM as [an] anchor of our program…I’m also for the ‘no to shutdown’ because it’s been my home. I can’t betray them; I’m also hurt about it,” he said.
“But let’s put it in the right perspective…it’s a legal battle between ABS-CBN and NTC. What I’m irritated about when I’m reading the posts of many, including those from ABS-CBN employees, it’s as if they’re being used as human shields. These 11,000 employees allegedly who, they’re saying, [ABS-CBN is asking] ‘How dare you not take pity.’ [They’re asking,] ‘What is going to happen to these lives, what about their families?” he added.
“When you read between the lines, there’s a point. But stop using these people as human shields, because first of all, you’re also heartless. Say what you will [about me], that I have an ax to grind [against ABS-CBN], but I was stripped of my job, when I wasn’t at fault,” the showbiz reporter claimed.
Sucaldito accused the company of being pressured by netizens who wanted him fired. He said he was forced to publicly apologize in January, but was nonetheless indefinitely suspended without pay that same month. The host filed an illegal dismissal complaint against the station in March.
“Then you’re telling us to have pity on them when you [ABS-CBN] never considered my family [when you fired me]? How could we eat when you fired me just like that?” he said.
Sucaldito also accused ABS-CBN of breaking the law which led to their forced closure by the government.
“I’m not pro Duterte…but why didn’t you air Duterte’s ads? You took the money, isn’t that wrong? Let’s believe that [the forced closure order] was personal, and it was all because of politics. Why? Were you not involved in politics yourself? Don’t pretend to be innocent,” said Sucaldito.
Duterte has publicly said multiple times that he will block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise and alleged that the media company did not air his election ads in 2016. ABS-CBN has insisted that Duterte’s ads were aired nationally, though a fraction of local spots were not because Duterte’s team had placed them after the deadline. Despite this, ABS-CBN apologized to the president and Duterte has accepted the network’s apology.
Meanwhile, Dennis Uy, a crony of the president, yesterday released a statement saying that he has “no intention” to buy ABS-CBN, months after rumors circulated that he intended to do so.
“Let me be clear once and for all and say that we, in Udenna Corporation, have no intention to acquire ABS-CBN. Being in the business of broadcasting is not part of our corporate direction,” Uy said.
Uy was recently in the spotlight after it was revealed that the government planned to pay him millions in pesos in exchange for the use of his ships, which will be turned into COVID-19 quarantine facilities. After widespread public outcry, Uy allowed the government to lease the vessels for free.
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