GMA-7 had released a detailed response, which was published on PEP.ph, to Sarah Lahbati’s allegations about the unfair treatment she had received from the company. The network stands by its earlier statement that the actress had violated the terms of her contract, which is effective until February 21, 2015.

Regarding Sarah’s decision to go to Switzerland, the network replied that such leaves are subject to approval by the management. "There is no provision for leave of absence in said contract. Any leave is subject to prior agreement between the Network and Sarah," read the statement. "Therefore, Sarah’s unilateral decision to go on leave, despite its earlier disapproval by the Network, is a violation of her contract with the Network. Further, her declared trip to Switzerland for an indefinite period, without the prior consent and approval of the Network, will be an additional violation of her contract."

GMA-7 also addressed Sarah’s claim that she has yet to receive her talent fee for a movie she did. "It was made clear to Sarah at the onset that her talent fee will be disbursed after she completes filming. The contract was sent to her in mid-October but she was on vacation and the signed contract was returned to GMA Films only on December 14, 2012. But given the Network’s year-end cut-off for payment processing, requests received after December 10 will only be paid on January 11, 2013. As a special concession, however, the check was made available on January 4, 2013. The delay in the processing of her payment can only be attributed to Sarah because she did not immediately return the signed contract to GMA Films."

In addition, GMA-7 had clarified Sarah’s walk-out while shooting the network’s new series, Indio, and had declared the actress’ accusations as false. "Based on the Network’s investigation, the production team of Indio did not give Sarah the permission to leave early," read the statement. "Contrary to what she mentioned in her tweets, they persuaded her to stay and finish her scenes but to no avail. As a result, the production team was forced to pack up the taping and incur substantial, additional and unnecessary costs."

The statement likewise said that there are no “under the table” deals between GMA-7 and ICONS management. However, GMA-7 maintained that there is no preferential treatment for ICONS talents.

"The Network’s substantial investment in her easily belies this. On top of her being a home-grown exclusive talent of GMA, whom the Network developed, trained and promoted, she is also one of the Network’s priority stars. GMA artists like Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Heart Evangelista, Jennylyn Mercado, and other bigger stars than Sarah who are also non-ICONS talents are not complaining about the treatment they are getting from the Network."

GMA-7 is planning to file a complaint in court against Sarah. According to the statement, the network will refrain from issuing further statements about the case after the complaint has been filed in court.

(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph)

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