Eerily silent

"How can we take those text messages out of context?" 



Last week, ABS-CBN entertainment anchor and reporter Gretchen Fullido filed complaints against Cheryl Favila, former ABS-CBN News executive, and Maricar Asprec, and ABS-CBN News segment producer, over allegations of sexual harassment.

Of course, respondents and their counsel are expected to deny the charges, with lawyer Evalyn Ursua describing the charges as baseless and a classic example of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and gender stereotyping against them in matters of sexuality.

Ursula justified her statement saying “the same complaint had been previously dismissed as baseless after a thorough formal investigation within ABS-CBN.” 

Maybe, but that same case filed by Fullido before ABS-CBN meted the two dismissal from office after having been found to have committed gross misconduct. And maybe Fullido was not satisfied with the outcome of her complaint, thus her decision to bring the case to court.

Anyway, that’s not what this column is really after. It’s the surprising silence of militant groups which had been known since time immemorial to support abused and exploited women.

 Why is it that when men are being accused of harassing women or any member of the LGBT community, these groups are quick to condemn them? And now, that the suspects in the alleged sexual harassment case is a lesbian and her domestic partner, it is now being made to appear it is actually a woman who is abusing them and subjecting them to discrimination?

The funny thing is that a feisty journalist, known to be critical of the Duterte administration, who by the way is also a lesbian, was quick to defend  the respondents, claiming the text messages, the subject of Fullido’s complaint, were taken out of context.

So, how come when it involves President Rodrigo Duterte, there is no room for compromise on the issue of context, that whatever the President said should be taken at face value and should be interpreted literally.  But in the case of Fullido, it should be treated differently.

So, just how could we take the messages out of context? Let’s look at the messages, which Fullido herself had released.

According to Fullido, Asprec would instruct her to “make lambing” (show affection) to respondent Favila whenever she was mad at Complainant for something.

In her complaint, Fullido cited the text messages that Favila sent to Fullido beginning 2015, which included:

“I pitched for you to be the social media anchor for Election Marathon. But mas gusto ko pa rin ng [I still like a] strip-teaser. Gretch yata [Maybe],” which is contrary to Ursula’s claim Favila had no control over Fullido’s career, which the lawyer said is an essential element in a sexual harrasment case.

Other text messages were as follow:

“Think of writing a story this way: having sex is different from making love. Making love entails emotions, not just doing the act. Always try to ‘make love’ to your stories. I am very partial to it.”

“Thank you, Gretchen! Pero gusto ko ng live rendition ng Happy Birthday song mo, na naka super sexy outfit ka. Hahaha! Birthday ko naman, di ba?” 

“Good morning! Tara Grets was my shower moment this morning…”

“What time are you coming to work? (Fullido: On the way to (ABS-CBN) now. What’s up?) Wala naman. Miss lang kita. Masama ba? Sungit. Kailangan mo rin ng konting lambing sa katawan.” 

“Good luck on your Deal or No Deal. May the force be with you! Bawal ang jowa ha … Lagot ka sa akin.” 

“Promises fulfilled—I have opened the doors to your dreams by creating your own segment on TV Patrol, despite doubts and criticisms from various camps; I got you a talent fee increase, which is double of what you are currently getting (not really bad). I have set-up the stage for you. Now, it’s time for me to continue the journey to my destiny. Maktub. Good luck to yours. It’s nice to have crossed your path this lifetime, Gretchen,” the text read. Again, it seems to show Favila is in the position to control Fullido’s career.

Sana naman parati kang ganyan. Pagod na ako makipag-away. It’s emotionally draining, and you can’t take my intensity. So gets mo na ang style ‘di ba? Be a good girl always.”

 So, tell me, how do we take those messages out of context? 

Aside from the sexual harassment case against Favila and Asprec, Fullido also filed libel suits against her colleagues news executives Cecilia “Ces” Drilon and Venancio Borromeo, as well as news reporter Marie Lozano, for allegedly besmirching her reputation when they stated that she filed the administrative complaint last year “to leverage her employment status with ABS-CBN.”

According to Fullido’s complaint, Drilon, during the ABS-CBN’s internal investigation after Fullido’s filing of an administrative complaint against Favila and Asprec, allegedly stated: “Gretchen’s accusations of sexual harassment against Chair (Favila) and Maricar (Asprec) also surprised me because many times, while I worked as anchor for TV Patrol, I witnessed [anchors] Ted Failon and Noli de Castro make side comments, in between breaks on TV Patrol, about Gretchen’s body, manner of dress, or behavior that, in my opinion, constituted sexual harassment or at least inappropriate behavior. But Gretchen Fullido only laughed off those comments. She never complained.”

“One remark she made in one party struck me: she said she was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool and bubbles on TV Patrol to shore up its ratings,” Drilon was reportedly quoted as saying.

Again, why is it that when a man makes a statement detrimental to that of the complainant in a sexual harassment case, these militant groups are quick to condemn the man, accusing him of victim-blaming and shaming?

While the allegations have yet to be proven, these groups before, were known to issue statements left and right, insisting that it is not the way a woman dresses or talks that serves as the reason why they are harassed or raped and that blaming them on such is tantamount to victim-blaming and shaming. So, why is a different standard being applied on Fullido’s case?

The way these groups are treating Fullido’s case is alarming. Maybe these groups are now adopting a different orientation and objectives. Maybe theirs is no longer about women’s rights and interests. And that maybe could explain their eerie silence on the issue.​

Topics: Cheryl Favila , Sexual harassment , ABS-CBN , Evalyn Ursua , Cecilia Drilon , Venancio Borromeo
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