MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Television host Willie Revillame announced Monday that he is leaving ABS-CBN despite his existing contract obligations with the network.
In his letter to ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III dated August 9, a copy of which was furnished to the media, Revillame said he wants to end his contract, claiming unfair treatment from the network.
In particular, Revillame cried foul over the management’s move to withdraw from a reported initial agreement that he would return to “Wowowee” on July 31.
He also objected to the network’s plan to give him a weekly pre-recorded TV program on Channel 2 and a possible show at sister company Studio 23.
“After much thought and thorough reflection on where I should stand in the face of these frustrating events, I have come to the conclusion that I should now rescind our contract,” he said.
“I do this because I honestly believe that the company has not dealt with me fairly. The company acted in bad faith and in clear violation of our contract,” Revillame added.
He also said that he sees no reason for the network not to release him from his contract obligations, citing its “allegation that I do not have the public trust or acceptance.”
It was earlier reported that Revillame, who went on indefinite leave following his controversial outburst on May 4, would make a comeback on July 31. The network, however, denied the reports. Revillame, on the other hand, kept mum on the issue.
Days before July 31, the network announced that “Wowowee” would be replaced by a new game and variety show titled “Pilipinas, Win na Win,” and that Revillame would be given a new TV program.
“Pilipinas, Win na Win” is hosted by Kris Aquino, Robin Padilla, Mariel Rodriguez, Pokwang, and Valerie Concepcion. The hosts had admitted that the new program caught them by surprise.
Series of meetings
Revillame claimed that the decision for his July 31 comeback was made during his meetings with ABS-CBN Entertainment Production head Linggit Tan on July 10, and ABS-CBN president Charo Santos-Concio on July 13.
He said he immediately met with his staff to make the necessary preparations and changes, as well as brainstorm on new segments and musical scores, only to be told days later that the company had “changed its mind.”
On July 20, he said he met again with Tan wherein he was told that “Wowowee” would be replaced by a new show. Tan also informed him about his new TV programs.
“I was shocked at the repudiation of the agreement for my return to ‘Wowowee’ on July 31… I am aware of the implications of my decision but I have to do it. I cannot just sit idly by and watch the death of a show that has brought joy and hope in so many ways to our less fortunate countrymen,” he said.
Rescission of contract
Revillame lamented the network’s decision to place him on probation by hosting a one-hour weekly program without assurance of reinstating him to daily programming.
He also criticized the network for the alleged unilateral downgrading of his appearance from live to a pre-recorded program. He claimed that a pre-recorded appearance constitutes “prior restraint and censorship.”
He also lamented that a pre-recorded TV program would mean he would not be able to “relate directly to my constituents and make them happy in the same way I did in ‘Wowowee.’”
“Although ABS-CBN has graciously offered me a replacement program, I am declining it because it is a one-hour weekly show, not live but pre-recorded, and therefore, not of the same kind of equivalent importance as Wowowee,” he added.
He also cited suspension without pay and unilateral cancellation of “Wowowee” “due to reasons not attributable to me” as reasons for his decision to cancel his contract.
He also protested the network’s refusal to save “Wowowee” by reinstating him as a host, especially when its TV ratings began “to decline with different trial hosts which did not generate the same viewership of 22-23% under my watch.”
He also noted ABS-CBN’s alleged deliberate sabotage of his image “by airing destructive pieces against me, instead of promoting me as a talent.”
Revillame mentioned the company’s alleged “abuse of right under a one-sided contract of adhesion, intended to destroy my career and humiliate me.”
“To Sir Gabby and Ma'am Charo, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me and for giving me opportunities in life. I have yet to decide what to do for the days to come. But for now my objective is to move on and to learn from my experience,” he said.
"While I have certain rights to claim against the company, I am willing to forego and waive this if we both live and let live," he added.
Revillame is represented by lawyers Ferdinand Domingo and Leonard de Vera.
May 12 letter
It was on May 12 when Revillame first asked the bosses of the Kapamilya network to release him from his contract. His letter came after his his outburst on “Wowowee.”
His outburst was triggered by fellow Kapamilya talent Jobert Sucaldito’s alleged criticisms of “Wowowee.” Revillame threatened to leave ABS-CBN unless the network fires Sucaldito.
His May 12 letter prompted the network’s executives to call a closed-door meeting with Revillame. In the meeting, both parties agreed that Revillame would take an “indefinite break” from his popular noontime show, but his contract obligations with ABS-CBN remained.
In his August 9 statement, Revillame explained why he blew his top.
“Throughout its five-and-a-half-year stint, I have put my heart and soul to the program and in the process, I discovered that the secret to its phenomenal success is ‘pagpapaka-totoong tao’ and genuine love and affection for its faithful followers. This is the reason why I reacted emotionally when they were insulted by no less than a fellow ABS-CBN talent,” he said.
He said his only mistake is “loving Wowowee too much and making it my life.”
“Thus, when it was cancelled, as if my life was consumed as well. I see no reason why I should still continue with my contract with ABS-CBN,” he said.
ABS-CBN issues statement
ABS-CBN Corp. on Monday said it would not release Revillame from his contract obligations with the company.
In a statement, Bong Osorio, head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications, reiterated the network’s previous stance that it is holding Revillame to his contract obligations until the agreement expires in September 2011.
He maintained that as an “aggrieved party,” ABS-CBN is the only one, not Revillame, that can decide whether to end the contract.
Below is the network's full official statement:
We take note of Willie Revillame's pronouncements in his press conference today.
Willie is bound to ABS-CBN by a contract until September 2011. He violated the behavioral provisions of his contract when he threatened the ABS-CBN management during the May 4, 2010 episode of Wowowee, with a resignation if management does not fire another artist of the network. His behavior was generally seen as a display of disrespect and arrogance, completely unacceptable to the Filipino public.
As the one who violated his contract, Willie has no right to have it unilaterally invalidated. Contracts are binding agreements that must be respected by the contracting parties involved. The one who violates the contract cannot be allowed to dictate whether it should continue or end. Otherwise, contracts will have no value and may be terminated based on whim.
ABS-CBN is the aggrieved party, and as such, is the only one that can decide to end the agreement.
Despite all that had happened, ABS-CBN was willing to continue with the contract. Willie however, refused to take responsibility for his actions.
ABS-CBN wishes to reiterate that it will hold Willie to his obligations under the contract which expires September 2011.