"It's not sexual harassment, Gretchen just does not meet journalistic standards."—Cheryl Favila camp
The #MeToo movement has hit its stride all over the world. What started in America, with the accusations and eventual indictment of Hollywood producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, triggered a chain reaction that has empowered victims of sexual abuse to speak up. Now is an age of reckoning, and a time for men especially to listen to the victims, and to reflect on our own behavior.
That's why it's important for men to be informed of stories like that of Gretchen Fullido, who recently filed charges of sexual harassment against executives at ABS-CBN News. Fullido alleged that News executive Cheryl Favila and segment producer Maricar Asprec "sent her text messages that were loaded with sexual innuendos, which amounted to requests for sexual favors."
Fullido's camp also says that when she rejected the advances, Favila and Asprec "made it difficult for her to work as a reporter and news anchor for TV Patrol," as part of a cycle that Fullido endured for three years.
Fullido's accusations and the ensuing responses, from the accused and from other prominent figures in media, have blown up into a messy and controversial exchange of allegations and opinions about sexual harassment. The way in which these narratives unfold can have serious consequences on the national and cultural dialogue about sexual harassment here in the Philippines.
So while now is indeed a time to let victims be heard, it's also important for any conscientious observer to hear all sides of the story discerningly. Favila has vehemently denied Fullido's allegations, and even provided counter-evidences. If, as Favila claims, Fullido's allegations are indeed baseless, public opinion may shift against actual victims of sexual harassment. At this point, one can only stay informed and hope for true justice to be served.
Our sister publication, the Philippine Entertainment Portal, has detailed Favila's denial of the accusations.
[This is a developing story.]
“All I can say is these are public records now. The public can do their research and verify. Please just pray for me in these difficult times.”—Gretchen Fullido, October 7, 2018
“She’s lying, and we have the documents to prove it. Sabi niya, ‘Pray for me.’ Talagang I will pray for her. Anyway, mahal naman talaga tayo ng Diyos, kasama yung mga sinungaling.”—Cheryl Favila, October 7, 2018
Cheryl Favila, the person Gretchen Fullido has accused of “sexual harassment in the workplace,” agreed to have her first interview on the case with the Philippine Entertainment Portal.
The interview took place in Quezon City, on the same day Gretchen told the media that she wanted prayers.
Both Cheryl and Gretchen have been associated with TV Patrol, the primetime newscast of ABS-CBN.
Gretchen is currently TV Patrol’s “Star Patroller,” or its entertainment news anchor, a position she has held since 2010. She has been a reporter with the Kapamilya network since 2005.
Cheryl was, until July 31, 2018, TV Patrol’s supervising producer. She had held this position since 2009.
Cheryl’s legal counsel, Evalyn Ursua, who is present during the interview deals with the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, where an underlying factor is that the harasser has authority over the complainant.
“You have to remember the bottom line,” says Atty. Ursua, who is best known as the feminist lawyer who won the case for “Nicole,” the 22-year-old Filipina who accused four U.S. Marines of rape in Subic in 2006.
“If you’re saying that a person has authority over another in terms of employment,” Atty. Ursua says, “that person must actually have power to fire that person. Or that person can affect the terms of employment of that other person.
That did not exist here.” She points out that Cheryl, also known in the newsroom as Chair, did not have direct or indirect powers over Gretchen.
“Chair does not have power to hire or fire Fullido or any anchor of TV Patrol.
“Secondly, she does not evaluate Fullido. In fact, Chair has no idea how Gretchen landed the job that used to be Phoemela Barranda’s. She was just told that Gretchen was going to be an anchor in TV Patrol in the entertainment segment.
“Chair did not evaluate Gretchen for the job, and she cannot recommend her termination. So what power are we talking about?”
In Gretchen's sexual harassment complaint, filed last October 5 with the Quezon City's Prosecutor's Office, she alleged that her “stories and work” suffered because she had rejected Cheryl’s “repeated advances since 2015.”
That is, Gretchen claims that her stories would not air as retaliation from the supervising producer whom she had rejected.
Atty. Ursua refutes this. “Gretchen’s stories did not get aired—not because of malice, but because her stories were either—No. 1, the stories were very poorly written; No. 2, did not have an angle; No. 3, there was no video support; No. 4, the video support and the story did not match. “I mean, the work of Gretchen Fullido just does not meet journalistic standards.”
One newsroom source who agreed to be interviewed by PEP.ph, but who has asked to remain anonymous, confirms this.
The source explains the procedure in TV Patrol. “Usually the news editor or the segment producer would recommend what stories should not be aired. One of them could say, ‘Chair, sa tingin ko ito yung weakest link ngayon. Pwedeng hindi iere dahil hindi na siya pang-national news.'
"O kaya ay ‘Pangit talaga yung material.’ Pero yung tipong maganda ang istorya pero hindi inere ni Chair, wala po akong natatandaan.”
Of Gretchen as a reporter, the source says, “Alam sa newsroom na ang hirap ng kopya ni Gretchen. Minsan, tatlong revise na ng news desk, naubos na ang oras ng mga tao, wala pa rin.
"Yung mga in-charge ho ang nagsasabi na hindi talaga maganda, kasi puro mukha niya ang nasa video. Paaano naman ieere yun?”
Adds the source, “Akala niya siguro pinepersonal siya. Sa tingin ko hindi niya ma-admit sa sarili niya yung kakulangan niya as a journalist. Yung ego niya, ‘Bakit hindi ako pumapasa, e, parehas lang kami ng ibang reporter?’
“Siguro na-feel niya na matatanggal na siya sa 'Star Patrol.' Nagkaka-anniversary. Yun yung nag-ipon na siya ng mga na-out niyang stories, e. Di ba, nagka-caravan? Nag-i-invite ng iba-ibang artista as Star Patroller. Tapos ang daming requests na kunin niyo uli si Kim Chiu!
"Nagugustuhan nila ang mga artista. Threatened si Gretchen."
Another news insider, who also wants to be unnamed, says that Gretchen was "many times" remiss in her duties.
The source intimates, “May SP [segment producer] bumulong sa akin na, minsan kahit sinabi ni Gretchen na nag-cover siya, ang pinapapunta lang ay ang cameraman. Dala nito ang mga tanong. Hindi nag-cover si Gretchen.
“Sinabi naman ni Gretchen, nung nabulgar ito, ‘Nag-cover ako pero late lang ako dumating.’
“Pero nang makasalubong ng isa pang taga-newsroom yung event organizer, sinabi nito, ‘Di naman nagpunta reporter niyo.’”