Mingling with the Masters of Delay

After its one month hiatus from the MTRCB suspension, Willie Revillame came back with the debut of his “new” show Wiltime Bigtime yesterday, May 14. By “new”, that would mean new games and the new LED floor that they were bragging about few days before the pilot; however, the format is still much the same as Willing Willie (whose format is still disputed at the courts for possibly violating Copyright Infringement Laws). This change of name may have been a tactic in order to be relieved of the sanctions imposed on the show (alluding to ABSCBN’s Showtime when they changed to Magpasikat , a show with the same format, while they were suspended) but MTRCB may have foreseen this move. So now while the Revillame is back on the air again, the “per-broadcast” permit status is still in effect as provided on the May 3 decision.

While Revillame supporters gleefully celebrate the comeback of their idol while the Child Abuse cases filed against the TV host are now being heard at the QC Hall of Justice. Last Wednesday, May 11, Prosecutor Benjamin Samson presided the Preliminary Hearing on the three separate cases filed by Stop Child Rights Exploitation and Abuse in Media (SCREAM), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Para sa mga Bata. Revillame is represented by his lawyers with Atty. Leonardo De Vera as the lead counsel.

During the hearing, De Vera executed their diversionary tactics as he started to question the authority of the prosecutor. He asked why their party was not informed of the raffle and accused the prosecutor being handpicked in order to hasten up the proceedings. With his dramatic soliloquy on this matter, he remarked that the proceedings is a “disturbing deviation” from standard criminal investigations.

The drama he brought up in the room was totally uncalled for. The soliloquy was clearly just an act as there were TV cameras within the room and we were surprised to see how good of an actor and a player this lawyer is. What is more disappointing is that the respondents did not submit counter-affidavits as they had just received, according to them,  the complaint affidavits the Monday before the hearing. This prompted the prosecutor to have them personally submit the counter-affidavits on May 23, thus, delaying the proceeding until May 30.

They had questioned the Board’s authority, just as they are doing that of the prosecutor’s. They derailed the Board’s hearing, just as they did the preliminary hearing. Whether it is because they lack concrete evidence to disprove the allegations of the complainants or just delaying the proceedings for the heck of it. What is clear to me right now is that they are masters of the art of diversion and delay.

This case is important to us, being a “landmark case” against media exploitation of children. While, of course, we would like this case be resolved the soonest, this doesn’t mean that we will risk jeopardizing it or devalue its significance by resorting to underhanded means to  win, as they are insinuating. It is sad that we are not getting sound arguments from Revillame’s side. Instead, they are planting the seeds of doubt every step of the way in order to make Revillame the victim in all this, to the extent of accusing the prosecutor and, in effect, the Department of Justice, of railroading them. It would be better for all concerned- the complainants and Revillame- if they concentrated their efforts in making a solid case to prove their client’s innocent of the charges. Assuming, of course, that such a thing is possible at all.