MANILA -- Piolo Pascual said it is wrong to insinuate that his decision to help director Joyce Bernal shoot footage for the upcoming State of Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte reflects his political views.
The actor released a statement this Thursday about his controversial trip to Sagada and Banaue, insisting that it "has got nothing to do with [his] political stand," nor that it meant that he was turning his back on ABS-CBN, as some had suggested.
"My loyalty has been with ABS-CBN since I was born in this business," he said. "My trip to Sagada had nothing to do with the government."
"I haven't met the President personally and I don't do politics as some may know," he added, before explaining that he was there to help Bernal with her SONA video that aims to show "how the environment had changed positively because of the pandemic."
"This isn't about the President."
Earlier this week, Pascual trended online after it was revealed that he had travelled up north with Bernal, who had been directing the President's SONA videos since 2018.
While the news was mainly about them being turned away due to the travel restrictions still being imposed due to COVID-19, much was also made about why he appeared to be siding with the government, given the difficulties ABS-CBN, Pascual's home network, has been having in applying for a new franchise.
A notable opinion on the topic came from director Erik Matti, who wrote that while "everyone is entitled to their own loyalties" and rather than judge people on their allegiances, he would "really love to know their thoughts about why they are on the other side of what [he] thinks is right."
In his statement, Pascual, who has worked with Bernal several of times before via his film production company Spring Films, clarified that his association with the director "has got nothing to do with my political stand and as a citizen of this country."
"I love my country regardless of who the President is and I love my home network which is ABS-CBN," he said.
"There's not a day that I didn’t pray for ABS-CBN. I love my job and I love this nation, so please stop hating or judging as the world is already at the brink of losing hope."
Pascual's full statement can be read below:
"In this time of pandemic and uncertainty, I always pray for God’s grace and wisdom.
"I grew up in a Christian home and we were raised to value hard work and loyalty. To not bite the hand that feeds you.
"With the recent controversy involving my friend Direk Joyce and myself, it saddened me to be judged without knowing the facts. I’m the type who just lets things pass and the truth to speak for itself but this time I’m forced to air my side for clarity.
"My loyalty has been with ABS-CBN since I was born in this business. My trip to Sagada had nothing to do with the government. I haven’t met the President personally and I don’t do politics as some may know. I was there with Direk Joyce and my friend Illac Diaz to help Direk Joyce get footage for her personal message/video before the start of the SONA, showing how the environment had changed positively because of the pandemic.
"This isn’t about the President.
"We went through the process of applying for clearance to enter Sagada with a written document addressed to the Mayor and he gave us a verbal approval and so we drove for nine (9) hours to the Mt. Province. We were escorted by the police from Baguio City to Sagada to make sure we didn’t go anywhere else or deviate from our trip. When we got to my friend’s place, Direk joyce was invited by the Sangguniang Bayan to explain that we couldn’t say there for a very valid reason, vetoing the decision of the Mayor which we respected and they even offered for us to stay the night since it was a long travel.
"Same thing when we tried to go to Banawe, we went to the Capitol and Direk Joyce asked the Governor where we could shoot but the Mayor also declined since there were active cases there. We were in touch with the local council and respected their decision and by the way, all of us did a rapid test before even going on this trip.
"Then we tried Baguio by first calling the Mayor’s office and he willingly took us in as long as went through safety protocols and follow guidelines, all along being escorted by the police.
"Finally we arrived in Baguio City. We lined up for the triage and got our clearance for entry. The next day we did a swab test again and just shot at place wherein nature was the subject and not the people.
"My association with Direk Joyce has got nothing to do with my political stand and as a citizen of this country. I love my country regardless of who the President is and I love my home network which is ABS-CBN.
"There’s not a day that I didn’t pray for ABS-CBN. I love my job and I love this nation, so please stop hating or judging as the world is already at the brink of losing hope.
"Let’s encourage, build each other up, pray for each other and spread understanding, compassion, and most of all hope and love.
"Life is too short to be lived with anger and bitterness in our hearts.
"God bless you."