Kapamilya star Piolo Pascual has finally spoken up on the controversial incidents where he, director Joyce Bernal and a small production crew were prohibited from shooting in the municipalities of Sagada and Banaue.
News reports said they went there early this week to film some background views for the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27.
On Thursday, the movie actor took to his social media accounts to address the issue. He said he normally “just lets things pass” but this time around, he was forced to air his side for “clarity”.
“With the recent controversy involving my friend Direk Joyce and myself, it saddened me to be judged without knowing the facts,” he said.
Contrary to reports, he said his trip 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 Illac Diaz to help Direk Joyce get footage for her personal message/video before the start of the SONA, showing how the environment has changed positively because of the pandemic,” he said.
“This isn’t about the President,” he added.
He said they complied with the process of applying for clearance to enter Sagada, adding that they had a written document addressed to Mayor James Pooten and that he gave them his verbal approval.
“So we drove for nine hours to Mt. Province,” he continued. “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 they got to his friend’s place, the lady director, however, was invited by the Sangguniang Bayan to explain that “we couldn’t stay 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.”
On Facebook, the Sagada municipality shared a letter addressed to Joyce and company explaining that they denied them access because of the municipality’s quarantine ordinance.
“Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 110 Series of 2020, a Revised Resolution Governing Tourism, Commerce, and Industry in the Municipality of Sagada during its period of the Covid-19 pandemic states, among others that: a. Closure and/or Suspension of Tourism such as booking of guests by establishments, all tourist sites and other concerns related to tourism; and b. Entry of non-residents coming from red areas is not allowed,” read the letter signed by Felicito Dula, vice mayor and officer-in-charge of Sagada COVID-19 Task Force.
The same thing, Piolo confirmed, happened when they tried to proceed to Banaue. They had earlier gone to the capitol and “Direk Joyce asked the Governor where we could shoot but the Mayor also declined since there were active cases there.”
Their group was reportedly denied entry to shoot footage in the area based on an executive order by Mayor John Raymund Dulawan that prohibits “travels to and from the municipality of Banaue, Ifugao for a period of seven days starting 12 o’clock noon of July 3, 2020 to 6 o’clock p.m. of July 10, 2020.”
In his post, Piolo said they were also in touch with the local council of Banaue and respected their decision.
His group ended up in Baguio City after securing Mayor Benjie Magalong’s permission. “He willingly took us in as long as we went through safety protocols and follow guidelines, all along being escorted by the police.”
He said they underwent triage before getting clearance, took a swab test the next day, and shot only in places where “nature was the subject and not the people.”
In a statement, Mayor Magalong confirmed that the group came to Cordillera on official business, with Baguio being part of their itinerary.
He said, “To complete a shoot being prepared for President Duterte’s upcoming SONA, the group chose several areas that would highlight the Cordilleran heritage.
“Prior to the trip to Baguio, despite having received a permit from Malacanang, the group made it a point to register and accomplish the health declaration form online, submitted all the necessary requirements and was approved consequently. Upon arrival, Piolo Pascual, Director Joyce Bernal et al followed all protocols set in place. They were not given any preferential treatment.”
Piolo and director Joyce are long-time friends and even business partners on their independent film outfit Spring Films.
“My association with Direk Joyce has 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 wrote.
He reiterated his loyalty to ABS-CBN, which is now being questioned by critics, given the franchise renewal issues it’s presently facing. “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,” he said.