The Movie and Television Classification Board (MTRCB) yesterday released their decision on the child abuse incident in the March 12, 2011 episode of the show “Willing Willie”, where a six-year old boy was made to repeatedly dance like a macho dancer during a live TV broadcast. The TV5 game-show was slapped with a 30-day suspension. But the MTRCB favourably took consideration of the measures taken by TV5 after the incident, crediting the show’s voluntary three-week suspension. This allows Willing Willie to go back on air as early as May 9, making Revillame’s supporters rejoice in anticipation of the return of their “beacon of hope” in just a few days’ time.
Interviewed on Cristy Fermin’s radio show, Revillame’s lawyer Atty. Ferdie Domingo said that the show was penalized for lapses during the audition process. Domingo also emphasized that the MTRCB did not rule that the incident was not child abuse. This particular statement has since been echoed again and again by Revillame’s supporters – especially frontrunners Fermin and her sidekick Richard Pinlac – leading to a wild circus of celebration over their self-proclaimed “victory.” However, this particular statement is emphatically misleading as it glosses over one of the more important points in the MTRCB decision – giving the false impression that “Willing Willie” is now relieved of any other liability and consequence.
But that is far from the truth. While, it is true that the MTRCB sanctioned “Willing Willie” based on the admission of respondents TV5 and Wil Productions Inc “that there were lapses in the Respondents’ implementation and supervision of the audition processes for the subject program” (Joint Manifestation and Motion filed on April 28), it is a big, self-serving lie to claim that the Board had ruled that there was no child abuse in the incident.
During the MTRCB’s second hearing on the case last April 7, TV5 questioned the Board’s jurisdiction over the matter of determining whether child abuse was committed during the “Willing Willie” episode. Yet now TV5 is gleefully proclaiming to all and sundry that the Board did not find evidence of child abuse in the case. It is obvious that TV5 and WilProductions, Inc. are misleading the public in order to make it appear that they emerged “victorious” instead of falling flat on their faces.
More importantly, TV5 failed to inform the public that Willing Willie was placed under a “per-broadcast permit” status, which is almost synonymous with a “one-strike policy.” This means that the show will now be closely watched by the Board once they resume broadcasting, with even the smallest detail being scrutinized, and should anything go awry the show will be pulled off air again.
It must also be noted that the investigation process has revealed even more controversial findings. In the said decision, it was found that WilProductions, Inc. failed to register as a co-producer for the show. Whether it was mere negligence or there were any deals made under-the-table is unclear, but one thing is certain: Revillame and his group may be in more trouble than they realize.
It is alarming that the TV5/Revillame camp continues to confuse the public as they put a spin on recent developments. While the MTRCB case has now finally been resolved, it is yet premature to declare that Willie Revillame, his show and the TV5 network are not guilty – directly or in complicity – of having committed child abuse. It is, in fact, the regional trial court which has the mandate and jurisdiction to decide whether there was child abuse. In this regard, there are now three separate cases filed against Revillame pending at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.
The continuing clamor against the show’s return should not be discounted. We should not allow TV5 and Willie Revillame to force down our throats their fabricated public relations spin. We must continue to remain on guard against lies and deceit. Let us not willingly let the wool be pulled over our eyes.