'Nothing to do with the government': Piolo Pascual defends Sagada trip with Joyce Bernal
MANILA, Philippines – Piolo Pascual defended a now-controversial trip to Sagada with director and friend Joyce Bernal as he lamented being "judged without knowing the facts."
On Monday, July 6, Vice Mayor Felicito Dula of the municipal of Sagada, said that Bernal and Pascual arrived in Sagada to shoot footage that would reportedly be used for the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte. The municipality declined the request because of COVID-19 safety protocols.
In a statement released on his Instagram account on Thursday, July 9, the actor said: "My trip to Sagada has nothing to do with the government. I haven't met the president personally and I don't do politics as some may know."
Pascual said that he, Bernal, and businessman Ilac Diaz went there to "get footage for [Bernal's] personal message/ video before the start of the SONA, showing how the environment has changed positively because of the pandemic."
"This is not about the president," the actor insisted
Pascual said they got clearance in the form of a verbal approval from the Sagada mayor himself, and that police escorted them to make sure that they would not travel elsewhere but Sagada. Upon their arrival, however, the town's council said they couldn't stay "for a very valid reason."
The team then went to Banaue but were declined as well because of active COVID-19 cases in the town. "We were in touch with the local council and respected their decision and by the way, all of us did a rapid test before even going on this trip," he added.
The team then went to Baguio, where they were allowed to enter as long as they followed the city's protocols, including lining up for triage. The next day, they underwent a swab test and "just shot at places wherein nature was the subject and not the people."
Pascual said his friendship with Bernal, who is also one of his business partners in Spring Films, "has got nothing to do with my political stand and as a citizen of the country."
He also reiterated his support for his home network, the embattled ABS-CN, which is in danger of being denied a network franchise by the House of Representatives.
"I love my country regardless of who the President is and I love my home network which is ABS-CBN."
"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 the hating or judging as the world is already at the brink of losing hope," he said.
"Life is too short to be lived with anger and bitterness in our hearts," he added.