GMA-7 has denied allegations of partiality and intrusion in the making of its special report on the harassment case filed against Ang Dating Daan leader Bro. Eliseo Soriano, in a statement sent to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) yesterday, July 1.
In an episode titled "Brother Eli: Paninirang Puri?" of late-night public affairs program Case Unclosed aired on June 18, host Arnold Clavio reported that a rape case filed on October 2005 by a certain Daniel Veridiano against Soriano is still unresolved in court. Veridiano, who was a former assistant secretary of the religious group, narrated in the episode that Soriano allgedly raped him in two instances between 2000 and 2001.
The case was already dismissed last January 2006 by the regional court of Pampanga for lack of evidence, but former Justice Secretary Raul S. Gonzalez re-opened it months later.
Ang Dating Daan, officially known as Members Church of God, International (MCGI), has publicly denounced the show's content, accusing GMA-7 of "bias and injustice," pointing out that the episode should not have been aired at all because it did not carry their organization's side.
Less than four minutes into the Case Unclosed episode, Clavio read a disclaimer detailing how they exhausted all means to contact Ang Dating Daan, who allegedly did not tell whether they would agree to an interview.
The GMA-7 statement added that the Ang Dating Daan leader ignored requests to do an on-cam interview. Phone calls were also made to Soriano's lawyers at their offices, but persons who received these calls told Case Unclosed the lawyers were either out or were unavailable.
Soriano, however, said in a satellite broadcast sent to Ang Dating Daan members on June 23 that he indeed received an email from the public affairs program, but refused to comment because he is prohibited by the court to do so.
"There was an email to me why we do not answer the broadcast of GMA. There is a principle of sub judice. Under our laws, I cannot answer because I will be cited for contempt of court. That case has just started. It should not be part of the program, Case Unclosed," said Soriano, who is allegedly in Brazil.
BOYCOTT. A day after the airing of the special report, Ang Dating Daan had launched a signature campaign for the boycott of GMA-7 programs.
A news blog of the group called "Less Traveled Road" (kotawinters.wordpress.com) went so far as to accuse the network and host Clavio of conniving with its rival group Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to smear Soriano's name.
The blog also pointed out that the Kapuso network mistakenly trusted Veridiano, whom they expelled in 2005 for the sexual harassment of 14 of his subordinates and for misappropriating funds. Veridiano is now an active member of Iglesia Ni Cristo.
Ang Dating Daan and the Iglesia Ni Cristo have been embroiled in a bitter religious war since 2001, each lobbing offensive criticisms at each other through their respective television programs.
But in its statement, GMA-7 "vehemently" denied these accusations, explaining that its News and Public Affairs department "adheres to strict policies on news reporting and coverage of events. It will not allow any individual or entity to influence the outcome of its news stories."
Case Unclosed is still open to airing Soriano's side in a future episode should he decide to give his side on this matter.