Willie Revillame does it again. Even on the defunct Wowowee, we really didn't agree on how, most of the times, the poor were ridiculed and used "just for laughs." And now on his current show on TV5, Willing Willie, he faces controversy by ridiculing a child named Jan-Jan.
Fist, Willie scared the poor kid by calling onstage the has-been PBA player, Bonel Balingit, who's so big and tall that the mere sight of him induced tears from Jan-Jan. Jan-Jan was still crying when he performed his talent which was snake dancing. The audience laughed and cheered because if you don't know what snake dancing is, it's the kind of dance performed in gay bars.
To top it off, Willie was so happy he made Jan-Jan repeat the dance! He could have escaped the issue by saying he didn't know the kid would perform that kind of dance. But he didn't even stop the performance, and worse, he made the kid do it again.
Read the statement of DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman addressed to TV5 and the network's answer after the jump.
DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman yesterday addressed this letter to TV5 Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan:
March 28, 2011
MR. MANNY V. PANGILINAN
ABC Development Corporation
Dear Mr. Pangilinan:
This is with regard to the 12 March 2011 episode of your show “Willing Willie”, which was brought to my attention by several concerned citizens and groups. In the said episode, a six year-old boy named Jan-Jan Estrada was made to repeatedly perform dance moves usually done by adult dancers in indecent shows. The poor child was in tears and looked scared the entire time, as show host Willie Revillame poked fun at him and the audience laughed and cheered.
Under Republic Act No.7610, also known as “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”, the term “child abuse” includes the following acts: “psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment,” and “any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being.”
Given that definition, it is unmistakable that what happened last 12 March 2011 to Jan-Jan Estrada was child abuse.
Persuading a little child to dance sexy adult dances in exchange for a measly sum, while he is being laughed at and ridiculed will definitely traumatize the child. What kind of values are we teaching our children through these shows, especially after Willie Revillame pushed Jan-Jan to do something against his will and then told him that it’s alright because he will receive money in exchange for it?
Given the foregoing, I am requesting that:
(1) Young children not be allowed to appear in Willing Willie and other similar shows in the network that cashes in on poverty;
(2) Host Willie Revillame be rebuked for his insensitive and deplorable actions.
There are limits to children appearing on television, and clearly, your 12 March 2011 episode did not respect the rights of the child and traumatized the six year-old boy. I also wish to raise my concern that the show tends to cash in on the plight of the poor. There are other ways of helping the poor without having to degrade their dignity and earn money out of it.
I hope you can act on this swiftly and I would appreciate a response from your good office.
Very truly yours,
CORAZON JULIANO SOLIMAN
Cc: Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares,
A sentence in the letter also raises our concern. "There are other ways of helping the poor without having to degrade their dignity and earn money out of it." We're hoping there'd be a law regarding this.
In response to the DSWD Secretary's letter, TV5 released this statement:
Mr. Willie Revillame, the producers of “Willing Willie” and TV5 sincerely and deeply apologize for the segment of the show featuring 6-year-old Jan-Jan Suan which viewers may have found offensive or in bad taste. We wish to stress that there was never any intention to humiliate or abuse Jan-Jan or any contestant on the show.
“Willing Willie” is a program that was conceptualized to bring joy and hope and shine the spotlight on ordinary Filipinos. The program aims to provide a venue for everyone to show their talents, tell their stories and make their dreams come true. This is the thrust of everyone involved in the program, particularly its host, Willie Revillame.
Like most contestants on the show, Jan-Jan, accompanied by his aunt, joined the program to showcase his talent and play in a game segment in the hope of bringing home big prizes. He has performed in the past in school programs and mall contests, and his performance in “Willing Willie” was completely voluntary and with the blessings of his parents. He appeared to be sad or even in tears, not because he was being forced to dance, but because he felt the dance was “serious” and he was playing a role. He did not want to smile because of his missing upper front teeth and because of the presence on the set of former basketball player Bonel Balingit who Jan-jan thought was a scary “giant”.
Again, TV5 and Wil Productions express profound regret for any insensitivity on their part, and wish to thank all those who have expressed concern. We are always grateful to be reminded of our obligations to the viewing public. In turn, we hope to make clear that the objective of the show has always been to bring joy and hope to Filipinos, whether they are participating on the show or viewing at home.
Watch the controversial March 12, 2011 video below.