Tito Sotto explains TVJ's 'unplanned disengagement' from TAPE

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Tito Sotto explains TVJ's 'unplanned disengagement' from TAPE
"Eat Bulaga" hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Tito Sotto revealed that his departure along with fellow longtime "Eat Bulaga!" hosts Joey de Leon and brother Vic Sotto from Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) was an "unplanned decision."

Last May 31, 2023, the three main hosts — collectively known as TVJ — of the long-running noontime variety show announced that they would be parting ways with TAPE.

Not long after their fellow co-hosts, talents and crew announced their resignation from TAPE as well.

Tito sat down for an interview with media couple Julius Babao and Christine Bersola-Babao on their show "Julius and Tintin Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino" where he explained TVJ's decision to leave TAPE, which produces "Eat Bulaga!"

The ex-senator said TVJ had planned to come to work and decide on the final issues they were embroiled in with TAPE, but were surprised to learn that TAPE's Chair Romeo Jalosjos would not let them air that day's show live.

He noted that such actions could be considered violations under the Department of Labor and Employment for locking down without notice to employees.

"Naisip namin, 'Siguro ito 'yung bendisyon ng Panginoon na mag-desisyon na tayo,'" Tito said, acknowledging they were rattled during their announcement to disengage from TAPE particularly because they could not "tolerate" the decisions and reasons of the company.

Related: Vic Sotto, Tito Sotto, Joey de Leon announce 'Eat Bulaga!' departure from TAPE, to move to TV5 — source

Julius asked if TVJ had no plans at all to leave TAPE. Tito said they and TAPE's co-owner Tony Tuviera had no formal contracts.

He said there was a lot of commotion last February upon hearing news there were intentions to take over TAPE and rumors that some employees' salaries would be lowered.

"Eh napakakawawa ng mga matagal nagtrabaho roon at unti-unting tumaas ng sweldo, tapos all of a sudden in one click gusto ibaba," continued Tito. "Nalulugi raw, eh nag-report sa Securities and Exchange Commission ng P213 million net profit, lugi ba 'yun?"

The host-politician reiterated that TVJ were, at the time, still mulling the decision to leave TAPE, especially after they were informed "Eat Bulaga!" might be shortened from airing daily to just three times a week to justify lower salaries.

"Sabi ni Joey 'Parang inaalis niyo kami ah?' at parang may dialogue sa isang board member na ire-retain kami. Ang sakit pakinggan, ire-retain? After 44 years?" Tito laughed ironically. "Kaya ang sama ng loob naming tatlo, si Joey lang nagsalita tungkol doon."

What amused Tito was that TVJ's announcement as seen through the Facebook Live of co-host Maine Mendoza overshadowed viewers of live television at that timeslot, and he noted TAPE does not have ownership over the social media platforms of "Eat Bulaga!"

Tito explained the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on ownership goes to the inventors of a product, not under whose name is registered for trademark.

Related: 'Kami 'yun, hindi TAPE': Tito Sotto says Tito, Vic, Joey own 'Eat Bulaga!' trademark

Philstar.com reached out to Tito for clarification and he emphasized TVJ's role in ownership of "Eat Bulaga!"

"There are two other separate filings [for trademark] but based on Supreme Court jurisprudence, the owner is at the 'point of creation.' Kami 'yun, hindi TAPE," Tito told Philstar.com.

According to the database of the World Intellectual Property Organization, there are two pending applications for the trademark registration of "Eat Bulaga!"

The first one filed in end-February this year by TVJ and Tony was for Sections 16, 18, 21, 25 (merchandise-related content), and the aforementioned Section 41 for entertainment services. The second one was filed a month later by Joey solely for Section 41.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines has yet to respond to both applications, hence their pending status.

The only active registered trademark is under TAPE for merchandise-related content only, which expires on June 14, 2023.

Amid these turn of events, a reliable source previously confirmed to Philstar.com that "Eat Bulaga!" is in talks with Bacolod City mayor Albee Benitez for a transfer from GMA-7 to rival network TV5.

RELATED: 'Life must go on': TAPE issues statement on departure of 'Eat Bulaga' hosts

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