TW: statutory rape
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest entertainment news, then you probably have heard that the Philippines’ longest-running noontime show Eat Bulaga has already parted ways with its parent TV production company TAPE, Inc.
The news was announced by mainstay hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey De Leon on May 31, 2023 in an emotional episode where they bid goodbye to the loyal viewers they call Dabarkads and the advertisers who supported them for decades.
The decision, while certainly baffling, did not come as an absolute surprise—given the public spat between TVJ and TAPE’s executives going on for months leading up to the event.
What started the knotty feud was a rumor that TAPE’s longtime CEO Anthony Tuviera’s retirement was forced, a move that was allegedly geared to benefit the new plans of the company’s majority stakeholders—comprised of Romeo Jalosjos (who owns 51 percent stake) and his three children with combined 24 percent.
In an exclusive interview of Pep.ph with Tito Sotto, he disclosed that under Jalosjos’ helm, majority of the staff and crew was being asked to resign—including its head director, writer, and hosts such as Paolo Ballesteros and Maine Mendoza, among others. There were also new ideas concerning the production, highlighting a plan to bring in a child from Zamboanga del Norte, the Jalosjos base, to turn into the next EB superstar.
TVJ couldn’t bear all these, along with other changes, so they decided to break free from the tension and go their separate way.
Romeo Jalosjos And His Criminal Past
The fact that most viewers of Eat Bulaga don’t have a clue about the show’s owner comes with a good reason: Romeo Jalosjos was a convicted criminal who was sentenced to life imprisonment for two counts of statutory rape and six counts of lasciviousness involving an 11-year-old.
A 46-page Supreme Court document detailed the decision to convict the rapist, who was a congressman in Zamboanga Del Norte when he committed the heinous crime. “For all we know, Jalosjos may have found a distinct and complete sexual gratification in such kind of libidinous stunts and maneuvers, Jalosjos may have reached that point where he would rather have sex with a girl of tender age, who could even pass as his granddaughter. Topped with the thrusting motions by Jalosjos, the resulting pain by the victim in her sex organ was no doubt a consequence of consummated rape,” read part of the file.
It was 2007 when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo granted Romeo clemency and commuted his sentence to 16 years, reducing it again two years after due to “good behavior”. In 2009, he was granted freedom after serving only 11 years in prison—ironically, the age of the young girl he had molested.
As reported by Pep, Jalosjos spoke proudly about being a prisoner in one interview. “History is built with stories about great men who became great because he was jailed first. Majority of the great men in history were imprisoned one way or the other, even here in the Philippines. [Jose] Rizal was imprisoned, [former President Ferdinand] Marcos was imprisoned, Ninoy [Aquino] was imprisoned, [African President Nelson] Mandela,” he said.
News that he had received VIP treatment while he was behind prison cells also made headlines. While he was in jail, the Bureau of Corrections allowed the convicted rapist to build several structures for his enjoyment, such as a tennis court, a playground, a bakery and his own cottage. A photo also surfaced showing Jalosjos playing in an exclusive basketball court, which he also financed.
In an interview, he defended himself. "There's nothing wrong with having a kubol. You have to respect the dignity of a prisoner, he is a human being and if he can afford it, why not?" he told reporters.
After leaving prison, Jalosjos concentrated on his businesses, including Dakak, which is now a multi-billion five-star resort. He is 82 years old. Three of his children are holding top positions in TAPE Inc., but as of writing, they have yet to announce the next steps following Eat Bulaga’s departure.