Complaint filed against Willie Revillame on Child Abuse as defined under RA 7610 (updated)

Today, the Department of Social Welfare and Development through Secretary Dinky Soliman filed a complaint against Willie Revillame. Together with Father Robert Reyes, End Child Abuse Community Facebook administrators Froilan Grate and Frances Irene Bretaña and myself we filed as co-complainants and submitted our joint affidavit-complaint at the Quezon City Prosecutor at past 10:00 AM.

Let us rewind. I only met Froilan and Frances (Peachy) on April 3 for the first general meeting of the Facebook Group. We were 16 in that meeting. I brought my husband along. It turns out my husband and Peachy knew each other in college. Since that meeting, I have been helping out by tweeting news, and creating buzz for advertisers to withdraw from Willing Willie. In less than a week, most of the major advertisers withdrew.

Peachy and Froilan also met each other for the first time on April 3. We are all in this advocacy as concerned citizens and as such, filing “as concerned, responsible citizens where the violation occurred”. The complaint at the prosecutor is just a first step. Our complaint is against Willie because the complaint is solely based on the YouTube video. Now, knowing that another group filed a separate complaint but citing TV5 as culpable too, the prosecutor might consolidate the complaints and make it one.

Father Robert and I have known each other since 2009 since he also has a channel at the Philippine Online Chronicles. Before we filed the complaint, Peachy and I met up with Secretary Soliman at her DSWD office. She didn’t want a press coverage of the filing so as not to make a circus out of the complaint. We started discussing about future plans of DSWD to provide information on what constitutes child abuse. We are looking forward to working closely with DSWD for this information campaign.

Here are excerpts of our joint complaint affidavit while Secretary Soliman’s statement is after the affidavit. The name of the child has been removed from the Affidavit-complaint.

WE, FATHER ROBERT P. REYES, FROILAN G. GRATE, FRANCES IRENE BRETANA, and NOEMI LARDIZABAL-DADO, having been duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby state:

1. We are executing this Complaint-Affidavit to charge MR. WILFREDO “WILLIE” BUENDIA REVILLAME with Child Abuse, as defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 7610 (the SPECIAL PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION ACT).

2. Revillame is the host of Willing Willie, a variety/game show jointly produced by the ASSOCIATED BROADCASTING COMPANY (ABC) and WIL PRODUCTIONS INC.

2.01 The show is broadcast live on ABC’s Channel 5 television station (TV5) usually from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and is viewable by the general public, including complainants.

2.02 The show is held at Studio A of the TV5 Complex at 762 Quirino Highway, San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City, Metro Manila, within the territorial jurisdiction of this office.

3. On 12 March 2011, a six year-old boy named …..appeared live on Willing Willie to join one of the contests. He was interviewed by Revillame as a prelude to the showcasing of his talent. When xxxxx revealed that his father owned and worked in a beauty parlor, Revillame laughed to his face and even asked, “Bakit may parlor ang tatay mo? Ano siya?” Such a reaction noticeably affected the child, as he looked distraught and sounded uncertain in his subsequent answers. In fact, Revillame himself noticed this, and even asked xxxxxz “Bakit ka iiyak?”

4. Despite xxxxx discomfort, Revillame continued with the segment and the child started to perform a dance, which is usually done by macho dancers in indecent shows. Xxxxxx danced for more than a minute, with tears in his eyes, as Revillame and the studio audience laughed and cheered him on. Xxxx was rewarded with PhP10,000.00 for his performance.

5. Xxxxxx was made to repeat his dance for five more times, with Revillame uttering inconsiderate comments, such as, “Ang galing. May luha pa ‘yan ha! Lumuluha iyan. Ibang klase, para ka nang… Para siyang ‘yung sa pelikulang Burlesk Queen, ‘yung umiiyak na ganoon… Kaya niya ginagawa ‘yun para sa pamilya niya… Ang sama ng loob pero kailangan ko itong gawin para sa mga mahal ko sa buhay.” Such a statement betrayed his deliberate intent to portray the six year-old child as a macho dancer who is forced to do things against his will in exchange for money.

6. To further aggravate the situation, xxxxx was made to perform on top of a raised platform on stage at the end of the segment. Revillame even said, “Beer pa! Beer pa!” as he urged the show’s female dancers to come near and reach for xxxxx as he danced.

7. We are executing this JOINT COMPLAINT-AFFIDAVIT to institute criminal proceedings against Revillame, as concerned citizens, for violation of R.A. No. 7610, pursuant to the following provision:
Section 27. Who May File a Complaint. – Complaints on cases of unlawful acts committed against the children as enumerated herein may be filed by the following: xxx

(g) At least three (3) concerned, responsible citizens where the violation occurred; xxx

8. We were able to individually view the segment from the internet, after it was uploaded on the YouTube website. As concerned citizens, we denounce the exploitation and irresponsible treatment of the six year-old Xxxxx on the show Willing Willie. Revillame’s actions and utterances constituted psychological abuse, cruelty, and emotional maltreatment of the child, as it debased, degraded and demeaned Xxxxx’s intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being.

9. The aforementioned acts constituted “child abuse”, in violation of Republic Act No. 7610 (the SPECIAL PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION ACT), particularly the following provision:

Section 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development. –

(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or to be responsible for other conditions prejudicial the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period. xxx

in relation to the following provision:

Section 3. Definition of Terms. – xxx

(b) “Child abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:
(1) Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;
(2) Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being; xxx

Here is the press statement from Secretary Dinky Soliman
from her Facebook Page.

The last few weeks bore witness to a lot of developments relative to the March 12, 2011 episode of ‘Willing Willie,’ where a 6-year old boy was made to dance provocatively while tears streamed down his face. The huge public outcry against the video clip of the episode, which continues to spread via the internet, was a wake up call for everyone. The resulting publicity on the incident propelled concerned individuals, parents, and non-government organizations to look at child abuse as an all-important issue. This also led government agencies and child rights advocates to step up their campaign for the promotion of children’s welfare and the protection of their rights. Likewise, media practitioners and advertisers were compelled to re-examine their policies and practices relative to shows which involve children and youth.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development approached this matter, fully cognizant of the need to protect the child and his family. From a policy perspective, as lead agency in social welfare and development, we intensified our coordination with concerned agencies and stakeholders for the protection and promotion of the rights of children. In line with our mandate of providing preventive, protective, rehabilitative and developmental programs and services, we also provided psychosocial interventions to the child and his family.

Today, after much study and deliberation, we decided to file a case against Mr. Willie Revillame for violation of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the ‘Special protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.’ Our decision to initiate legal proceedings is pursuant to our mandate to protect children who are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is also in response to the public clamor for government intervention regarding Mr. Revillame’s actuations toward the little boy in that unfortunate episode of Willing Willie.

We are filing this case because it is our job. We do this for all cases of child abuse that we come across, and we provide services to everyone who needs our help. There is no political angle here; neither is there any hidden agenda, as some quarters may allege. Our main concern is to promote the welfare of the child and his family, and others who are or may be placed in a similar situation.

Our preventive and rehabilitative services to children include child protective services, therapy, alternative family care, special social services for children in armed conflict, and rehabilitation services for children in conflict with the law. As of February 2011, we have served 4,701 children who are victims of various forms of abuse. Majority of these children (1,531 or 32.5 percent) are aged 14 to below 18, followed closely by those aged 10-14 (1,006 or 21.4 percent). We even have cases where children as young as 1 year old and below had been victimized (412, or 8.7 percent). Many of these children are in found in NCR (1,395 or 29.6 percent).

Apart from psycho-social intervention, we also provide legal assistance to children who are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. For years, we have forged partnerships with various organizations, such as the Child Justice League, in order to provide free legal assistance to these children and their families. We have also mobilized retained lawyers at each of our field offices, to serve their legal needs. As of December 2010, the Child Justice League handled ninety-six (96) child abuse cases in our behalf. These cases are mostly within Metro Manila, although two (2) legal cases are filed in Region IV-A and one (1) in Region III. As of March 2011, our retained lawyers are also handling 139 child abuse cases nationwide.

We are doing everything we can to help these children. They deserve a better quality of life and we want them to be protected. We want them to enjoy the simple joys of childhood – love, protection, acceptance. Every child is precious. They are individuals in their own right and we need to nurture them in an environment that promotes their interest. As Stacia Tauscher once said, “We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that the child is already someone today.”

Thus, to protect the 6-year old boy who appeared on Willing Willie and others like him, we are filing this complaint. We take this opportunity to thank everyone who have supported us, and continue to support us, in our endeavors.