CHILD ABUSE ON WILLING WILLIE SHOW OF TV5 (by Froilan Grate)

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, Committee Chair, Youth, Women and Family Affairs

Hon. Corazon "Dinky" Juliano-Soliman, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development

Hon. Grace Poe Llamanzares, Chairman, Movies and Television Ratings and Classification Board

Mr. Manny Pangilinan, Chairman, TV5

Justice Santiago M. Kapunan, Officer in Charge, Integrated Bar of The Philippines

Mr. John Rojo, President, Philippine Association of National Advertisers

Ms. Charmaine Canillas, Chairman, AdBoard

SUBJECT: CHILD ABUSE ON WILLING WILLIE SHOW OF TV5

We wish to bring to your attention a deplorable incident that occurred during the March 12, 2011 episode of Willing Willie hosted by Mr. Willie Revillame which is aired during TV5's primetime block. In the said episode, also posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YRCxh9q64w, a six-year-old boy named Jan-jan was shown dancing “ala-macho dancer," much to the delight of the host and the studio audience. As seen in the video, however, the boy was clearly distressed and humiliated by the said experience as evidenced by his crying while supposedly “entertaining” Mr. Revillame and his audience.

Children should be at school studying or playing at home. They should not be used as cheap entertainment. The act of making children work is already unfortunate, but the said act is made even more deplorable when in doing so they lose their dignity and self respect.

If TV shows that employ child actors are required to secure the necessary permits from the DSWD, are reality shows like Willing Willie required to do the same? Are representatives from the DSWD present to monitor these activities, especially for shows that air live?

We quote Article V, Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act:

“Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows. – Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or in video, or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials or to sell or distribute the said materials shall suffer the penalty of prison mayor in its medium period.

If the child used as a performer, subject or seller/distributor is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period.

Any ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of a child who shall cause and/or allow such child to be employed or to participate in an obscene play, scene, act, movie or show or in any other acts covered by this section shall suffer the penalty of prison mayor in its medium period.”

Clearly, what transpired during this episode of Willing Willie was a violation of this provision of the law.

We condemn the blatant act of subjecting poor Filipinos -- especially minors, a group that history has shown to be one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society -- to humiliation in shows like these in exchange for some quick cash. Given the financial hardships that they have to endure, they often feel forced to do acts that violate their dignity as human beings in exchange for keeping body and soul together.

We condemn the host, not only for failing to stop the boy who was clearly uncomfortable with what he had to do, but more importantly for milking similar situations for the sake of selling the show and increasing its ratings.

We condemn the producers of the show and the management of TV5 not only for failing to act appropriately on this incident, but also for tolerating these kinds of shows, as well as the host's tasteless and humiliating antics.

We express disappointment towards the parents of the boy for subjecting their child to this horrible experience.

We express concern for the studio audience and others at home who found this incident amusing and entertaining. We express disappointment towards all the advertisers of the show for failing to consider the content and the values of the shows in which they advertise.

We challenge our government agencies, particularly the DSWD and the MTRCB, to act promptly on this and other similar incidents, and to institute measures to protect young children when they appear on Willing Willie and similar shows.

In this regard, we would like to request the following actions from your office:

1. For Mr. Manny Pangilinan and the management of TV5 to immediately implement a temporary moratorium on the guesting of children on Willing Willie and similar shows;

2. For Mr. Willie Revillame and the producers of the show to issue a public apology to Jan-jan and all their other guests whom they have humiliated in the past, and to promise never to commit the same in their future episodes;

3. For the MTRCB to conduct an investigation and review of the said episode to determine the violations made by the host and the producers of the show of the standards and regulations set by law and the Board, and impose corresponding penalties on those found guilty;

4. For the DSWD and the CHR to conduct an investigation into the said incident to determine the violations committed by the host, the producers and the management of TV5 of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and initiate legal action against those who will be found responsible; 1. For the DSWD and the MTRCB, in partnership with the TV networks in the country, to formulate regulations that will cover the appearance of children on game shows and other reality-TV themed shows, especially those that are aired live;

5. For the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Affairs of the Senate to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, to institute amendments to Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 to protect children from similar violations;

6. For the DSWD to provide counselling to Janjan and to all other children who participated on the show in the past for possible trauma and other physiological distress, as well as to their parents who consider subjecting their children to such experience as acceptable;

7. For the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to provide legal support to the victims of these abuses who may want to pursue legal action against those who will be found responsible by the relevant government agencies; and

8. For the Philippine Association of National Advertisers and AdBoard to forward this complaint to all their members, especially those who advertise on Willing Willie, and to request their members to temporarily cease placing ads on the show until the host, the producer and the management hav complied with this request and instituted reforms to avoid a repeat of this incident in the future. Otherwise, we will be constrained to start a call to boycott the products of those who will refuse to heed this request. We are expecting a prompt reply and action on your part. We will be continuously monitoring this issue and will continue to gather support from the general public through a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Para-kay-Jan-jan-Shame-on-you-Willie-Revillame/102087546543288) we have started, as well as the mainstream media.

Signed:


Raul J. de Vera, Jr.    Contact the author of the petition

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