MANILA, Philippines – TV host Willie Revillame and top officials of TV5 have been sued for child abuse by rights advocates on Monday in connection with a crying boy who was made to dance suggestively and was given P10,000 on “Willing Willie” last March 12.
Six people, including officials of the End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), filed the complaint with the Quezon City Fiscal’s Office on Monday.
The complaint named Revillame, TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, and some officials of the broadcast company as respondents.
“The depiction of the child in such a sexualized fashion is tantamount to abuse and exploitation,” according to the complaint sheet.
“The degrading exhibition is compounded by the cruelty of the show's main host, mocking his [boy’s] appearance amidst the laughter of the jeering crowd,” it added.
The complainants, who belong to the group Stop Child Rights Exploitation in Media, accused Revillame and TV5 officials of violating several laws such as Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Axploitation, and Discrimination Act; RA 9775 or the Act Defining the Crime of Child Pornography; and RA 9231 or An Act Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
“We cannot allow these laws to be trampled upon. This merits collective action from those who have been fighting for children's rights for a long time now,” said Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific.
TV5 declined to comment on the case on Monday as it has yet to receive a copy of the complaint, according to the company’s public relations consultant, Peachy Guioguio, who quoted TV5 legal department head Atty. Christine Ona.
Jay Montelibano, TV5 business unit head, insisted, meanwhile, that neither child abuse nor child exploitation happened in the show.
He said they are ready to defend their position before the courts.
The complainants stressed that they are not connected with any media company.
“We do want to be involved by the competition of TV networks, we are only concerned about the welfare of our children,” ECPAT president Amihan Abueva said.
The case is set to be raffled off to a Quezon City judge's sala on Thursday.
MTRCB chief defends child psychologist
Meanwhile, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares defended child psychologist Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang in connection with the case.
Llamanzares, in a press statement, said Carandang is not the complainant in the case now pending resolution in the MTRCB’s Hearing and Adjudication Committee.
“The records of the Board's Hearing and Adjudication Committee showed that the board's legal counsel is the complainant in the administrative case against the television program "Willing Willie" of TV5 for probable violation of Section 3 (c) of PD [Presidential Decree 1986 in connection with the questioned scene of a gyrating dance by a 6-year-old boy,” she said.
“Nowhere in the complaint filed by the Board's Legal Counsel or in any public pronouncement by the board where the name of Dr. Carandang was ever mentioned,” she added.
Llamanzares said the complaint by the board's legal counsel was filed on March 18, 2011 while a latter coming from Carandang who expressed her views on the issue was received by the board on April 3, 2011.
“In the determination of what constitutes contemporary Filipino cultural values, the board always listens to the sentiments of the Filipino public. It has always been the policy of the board to encourage the public to register with the board their complaints, sentiments or opinions regarding any matter seen on television. On some occasions, the board even sought guidance from persons of known probity and expertise in their given field,” she added.
“In the subject gyrating dance of [the boy], the board solicits the views of Dr. Carandang because the scene deemed offensive involves the participation of a child. She said the opinion of the psychologist, as well as views of officials of concerned government agencies “do not in any way bind the board but only to aid in the independent and impartial determination of the case.” - With a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News