Actor demanding P1.9 million in damages
MANILA -- Aljur Abrenica wants out of his contract with GMA-7.
The 24-year-old actor went to the Quezon City Hall of Justice on Thursday afternoon to file a complaint for Judicial Confirmation of Rescission of Contract against GMA Network, Inc.
According to a copy of the formal complaint furnished to ABS-CBNnews.com, Abrenica is an "exclusive talent" of GMA-7 until March 2015. His contract is renewable for another three years, upon the network's exclusive option, according to the complaint.
Abrenica is demanding P1 million in moral damages over his "besmirched reputation, sleepless night and serious anxiety," after the network allegedly required him to work for long hours despite feeling ill, and therefore, affecting his performance as an actor.
The complaint, signed by Abrenica's legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, is also calling for P100,000 in exemplary damages, and an additional P800,000 in attorneys' and other legal fees.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News and other reporters, Abrenica explained that he had exhausted all efforts to reach an agreement with his home network.
"Sa totoo nga lang po, ayoko po talagang umabot sa ganito," he said. "Ako po 'yung huling taong mag-de-desisyon na malagay sa ganitong kalagayan."
Topacio said GMA-7 left Abrenica "with no choice," pointing out that the actor had already spoken with network executives personally and without the presence of a lawyer.
Their camp, Topacio emphasized, is not out to "start a fight," adding that Abrenica is open to a dialogue with GMA-7 executives concerning a possible termination of his contract.
"Noong talagang hindi na maayos, pinadalhan namin ang GMA-7 ng isang formal letter, hoping they would sit down on what the problem was, but they insisted on the contract," the lawyer said.
Abrenica said he has been considering the move as early as last year, but initially decided against it in the hope of fixing differences with his home network.
"Sa katunayan po, matagal na po, taon na po. Pero, sabi ko nga, ayaw ko po talagang umabot sa ganito dahil hangga't maaari, gusto ko pong ayusin," he said.
"Pero with the guidance ng mga tao sa paligid ko, guidance po ng mga magulang ko at mula po sa Panginoon, kinailangan ko na pong pumunta sa hukuman," Abrenica added.
'Not a piece of meat'
Aside from the alleged exhaustion he suffered due to the demands of his job, Abrenica, in his interview, raised GMA-7's supposed "lack of respect" for the direction he wants to take as an actor.
"Kaya po ako nandito ngayon, dahil po hindi po ako nabigyan ng pagpapahalaga at respeto po sa career na gusto ko pong mangyari," he said.
Topacio added: "It's all a matter of artistic direction, according to my client. My client is not a piece of meat. He's an artist. Hindi puwedeng ipagawa sa kanya 'yung mga ayaw niyang gawin. He will not grow as an artist."
Abrenica's formal complaint detailed instances when the projects given to him "reinforced his image as a sexy actor, and [undermined] his abilities as a serious performer."
It raised several other "examples" showing how GMA-7 supposedly mismanaged Abrenica's career, including a time when the actor was allegedly banned from SM malls and the loss of his contract as a potential endorser of Bench Body.
Abrenica explained that he is only seeking the betterment of his career, which, in turn, will allow him to help more people.
"Bilang isang seryosong aktor at musikero, marami pa po akong gustong [magawa]," he said. "Lahat naman po tayo, ang gusto po natin, mapabuti po tayo, 'di ba?"
"Marami po tayong gusto matulungan, marami po tayong gusto marating, at sa akin pong nakikita, hindi mo nagtutugma ang direksyon na gusto nila para sa akin at direksyon na gusto ko po para sa akin."
'Utang na loob'
Abrenica made a successful entry to show business in 2007, when he was named the male champion of the GMA-7 reality talent search "StarStruck" on its fourth season.
Not long after his win, Abrenica was cast in lead roles in several GMA-7 drama series, including "Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan" in 2007, "The Last Prince" in 2010, and "Pablo S. Gomez's Machete" in 2011.
He was last seen in "Kambal Sirena," which concluded last June and which also marked his ninth leading-man role in a GMA-produced TV series.
Asked if he feels indebted to the network for launching him as an actor, Abrenica said: "Opo naman po. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa GMA sa oportunidad at tiwala na binigay nila sa ilang taon ko sa industriya. Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan iyon."
"Hindi po kami nakikipag-away, at tumatanaw po ako ng malaking utang na loob sa GMA Network," he added. "Kundi po dahil sa kanila, hindi po ako makakarating sa kinatatayuan ko. Iyon nga lang po, sa panahon ngayon, hindi na po talaga nag-aakma ang interes ng bawat isa."
As to whether he realizes that his legal move against GMA-7 may cost him his career altogether, Abrenica answered: "Pinag-isipan ko pong mabuti. Napakahirap. Alam ko po ang mga posibleng mangyari, pero para po sa akin, worth it po 'yung gagawin ko ngayon."
Abrenica clarified, however, that he has yet to speak with other networks regarding a possible transfer. "Ang masasabi ko lang po, hindi pa po ako nakikipag-usap. Wala pa po akong nakakausap sa mga ganyang bagay," he said.
GMA-7 has yet to issue a statement regarding Abrenica's lawsuit.