Actress Sarah Lahbati used to be one of the country’s brightest young stars. After winning the GMA-7 talent search Starstruck V in 2009, the network had immediately recognized Sarah's potential by lining up several projects and endorsements for the pretty actress. She even found love along the way--with no less than Richard Gutierrez, one of the country’s hottest stars.

However, it seems that things weren’t as rosy as they seemed to be for the young actress. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened:

In January, Sarah posted a series of tweets revealing that she is at odds with GMA Artist Center (GMAAC). According to the actress, the network’s top executives wanted her to sign an "under-the-table contract" with talent management group ICONS so she could get more projects and endorsements in exchange for 15 percent of her salary, allegedly in addition to the 25 percent cut that GMAAC will still receive as her handler. Aside from this, she also claimed that the network has yet to pay her for a number of guestings and shows she did back in 2010.

Unhappy with how she was being treated by GMAAC, Sarah then signed a co-management contract with Royal Entertainment & Artists Management, a move which the network reportedly frowned upon. She then announced that she would soon be leaving for Switzerland to resume her studies.

Sarah had claimed that GMA Films president Annette Gozon-Abrogar and former GMA-7 Talent Development and Management Department head Arsi Baltazar were the ones who pressured her to sign a contract with ICONS. Both have vehemently denied the young actress’s accusations, saying that she has always been one of the network’s prized talents. Sarah also claimed that GMA Network CEO Felipe Gozon had guaranteed to protect her if she discloses all her issues with the management, but he apparently changed his mind when he found out that his daughter Annette was involved.

Royal Entertainment & Artists Management, the firm chosen by Sarah to co-manage her career, is headed by Annabelle Rama.

(Photo courtesy of

GMA-7 then sent out a statement addressing each of Sarah’s complaints. The network claimed that there were no shady deals between GMA-7 and ICONS, and ICONS talents were never given special treatment. GMA also said that it was Sarah’s fault that she did not receive her talent fee, since she submitted her contract after the given year-end cut-off date. Sarah’s decision to leave for Switzerland despite the network’s non-approval also goes against the provisions in her contract.

The network then filed a civil case against Sarah, demanding P7 million from the young actress for allegedly failing to comply with her obligations as specified in her contract. Annette also sued Sarah for libel, saying that she never referred Sarah to ICONS for a co-management contract.

A few days after the GMA-7 executives filed their lawsuits, Annabelle revealed that Sarah had already left the country, saying that the young actress and her mother had departed quickly because they were scared that they might be prevented from leaving. Annabelle, as well as her daughter, Ruffa Gutierrez, also denied the rumor that Sarah left the country because she was pregnant with Richard’s child.

Sarah returned to the Philippines on July 11, almost six months after her abrupt departure, to face the libel case that Annette had filed against her. reports that the actress had posted a P10,000 bail at the Makati Regional Trial Court on July 12 in order to be free of the warrant of arrest against her. However, she will have to go back to court for her arraignment, which is scheduled on August 22. If she doesn’t show up, there is a chance that she might be arrested despite the bail she posted.

Sarah also retaliated against Annette by suing her for grave coercion on the morning of July 15. She also included Arsi, her former manager Michael Uycoco, and ICONS executives Albert Muñoz, Shiela Buendia, and Andre Dee in her lawsuit. The actress also revealed that she is set to sue Annette for perjury.

(Photo courtesy of

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