Tito, Vic & Joey leave production company behind ‘Eat Bulaga’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — "Eat Bulaga” long-time hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon announced on Wednesday their decision to leave TAPE Inc., the production company behind the country’s longest running noontime variety show.

The three bid their goodbyes during an episode of the show which they had been a part of since its inception nearly 45 years ago.

“Simula ngayong araw, May 31, 2023, kami po ay magpapaalam na sa TAPE Incorporated,” Vic told viewers.

“Karangalan po namin na kami’y nakapaghatid ng tuwa’t saya mula Batanes hanggang Jolo at naging bahagi ng buhay ninyo. Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Saan man kami dalhin ng tadhana, tuloy ang isang libo't isang tuwa,” he continued, quoting lyrics from the Eat Bulaga theme song.

[Translation: Starting today, May 31, 2023, we are leaving TAPE Incorporated. It was an honor for us to have brought joy to people from Batanes to Jolo and to be part of your lives. Thank you very much to you all. Wherever life brings us, a thousand and one joys continue.]

Moments before this, Tito revealed they were not allowed to go on live television, although he did not elaborate.

“Pumasok po kaming lahat ngayong araw para makapagtrabaho, pero hindi po kami pinayagan umere ng new management nang live [We all came to work today, but the new management did not allow us to air live],” the host and former senator said.

His brother Vic also made a statement seemingly hinting at a possible falling-out with the company.

“Ang hangad lang po namin ay makapagtrabaho nang mapayapa, walang maaagrabyado at may respeto sa bawat isa [The only thing we want is to work in peace, where no one is treated unfairly and where there is respect for each and every one],” he said.

The video of the episode has since been taken down from Eat Bulaga’s YouTube channel, but it can still be accessed on the show’s Facebook page as of early Wednesday afternoon.

The iconic television trio's departure came amid controversies involving TAPE Inc., including Tito Sotto’s revelation in April that the firm owed Vic and Joey tens of millions of pesos each in allegedly unpaid salaries. Earlier this month, Vic said the company has already paid them.

Hours after the three bared their decision, GMA Network – where Eat Bulaga is being aired – released a statement, saying it is saddened by the “unexpected turn of events.”

However, it expressed optimism that the concerned parties will be able to resolve their problem.

“GMA has been the home of Eat Bulaga for many years and we still have a block time agreement with TAPE until the end of 2024 for the noontime slot," it stated. "Together with all the Filipino fans, we pray for a smooth and swift resolution of their issues."

Meanwhile, in an Instagram post showing a clip of their announcement, De Leon wrote, “We’re not signing off … we are just taking a day off!”