It was May 23 when Willie Revillame filed his his 43-page counter-affidavit where he denied the allegations saying that the complaints against him were personal and only aimed to destroy him and his career.
“It is evidence [sic] that there was a concerted effort, headed by the complainants, to deploy the machineries of the government against me, a private individual, for a purely commercial action not involving national security or national interest,” Revillame said in his counter-affidavit.
It is recalled that together with Father Robert Reyes, End Child Abuse Community Facebook administrators Froilan Grate and Frances Irene Bretaña and myself filed a child abuse complaint against Willie Revillame as co-complainants and submitted our joint affidavit-complaint at the Quezon City Prosecutor on April 27, 2011.
Today, I filed a reply to Willie Revillame’s counteraffidavit (the dancing child’s name was removed and replaced with _______) as follows :
- Respondent Wilfredo Revillame ADMITS all the factual circumstances pertaining to the offense charged and merely attempts to give the subject incident a positive, albeit misleading, slant in order to justify his actions.
- Thus, he admits that __________ (“______”) was “teary-eyed” when he danced as a participant in the Wiltime Bigtime segment of Mr. Revillame’s show (March 11, 2011 episode), dancing to the tune of “Next Episode” and doing the “body wave”. Mr. Revillame claims that this was due to ______’s fear of Mr. Bonel Balingit, a former pro basketball player who looks like a mythical ogre who lives in large trees (“Kapre”).
- But by Mr. Rivillame’s own admissions, it was not Mr. Balingit who prompted ______ to dance at center stage but respondent himself, and even asked the already crying boy: “Bakit ka umiiyak ? Bakit ka umiiyak ? Sasayaw ka ‘di ba ?
- If in fact Mr. Balingit “intimidated” ______, as respondent claims, it was Mr. Revillame himself who ordered Balingit to stand beside the boy. Any “intimidation” was the direct result of Mr. Revillame’s acts. Mr. Balingit was only being himself and it is not his fault if he looks like a “Kapre”.
- Mr. Revillame now pleads lack of criminal intent. But the malice is evident in the relish with which he taunted ______, even prior to the latter’s dancing. During the interview, when the boy revealed that his father owned and worked in a beauty parlor, Mr. Revillame laughed at him and asked mockingly “Bakit may parlor ang tatay mo ? Ano siya?”, insinuating that there was something aberrant about his father engaging in such a livelihood. Such a reaction noticeably upset the child, as he looked distraught and sounded uncertain in his subsequent answers.
- Thereafter, ______ was inveigled to perform a provocative dance, usually done by macho dancers in indecent shows. Even as he was crying, Mr. Revillame led the studio audience in jeering ______.
- After receiving P10,000.00 for his pains, ______ was made to repeat his dance five (5) more times. All the while, Revillame was uttering demeaning and cruel comments such as: “Ang galing. May luha pa ‘yan ha! Lumuluha iyan. Ibang klase, para ka nang… Para siyang ‘yung sa pelikulang Burlesk Queenm ‘yung umiiyak na ganoon… Kaya niya ginagawa ‘yun para sa pamilya niya… Ang sama ng loob pero kailangan ko itong gawin para sa mahal ko sa buhay.” Mr. Revillame’s own comments clearly shows his awareness of the depraved nature of the acts the child was being impelled to do but he nevertheless persisted in deriding ______
- That the dance was repeated numerous times clearly shows the intent to debase and humiliate the child. This constitutes the crime of child abuse as defined under Section 3 of R.A. 7610, as follows: “ Child abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following: (a) Psychological and physical abuse, xxx emotional maltreatment; (b) Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being xxx ;
- And Mr. Revillame cannot just simply plead good faith, leave it at that and expect to be immediately exculpated. A presumption of criminal intent is present on the part of a person who commits an act punishable by law. The well-settled rule is that : “Criminal intent is presumed to exist on the part of the person who executes an act which the law punishes, unless the contrary shall appear. Thus, whoever invokes good faith as a defense has the burden of proving its existence.” ( Garcia vs. C.A., G.R. No. 157171, March 14, 2006).
- The case of Roth vs. United States (354 U.S. 476 ) as cited by Mr. Revillame is NOT controlling, not only because it was handed down by a foreign court, but because it deals with obscenity laws ( Mr. Roth was in the business of printing and selling “obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy” materials) and what constitutes obscene material which is therefore not protected by the freedom of expression clause of the U.S. Constitution.
- The present case deals with the crime of CHILD ABUSE under a special law (R.A. 7610), which is an entirely different matter altogether. Under the law, “Child Abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes psychological and physical abuse, cruelty, emotional maltreatment or any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being. (Jumaquio vs. Villarosa , G.R. No. 165924, January 19, 2009). This is comparing apples to oranges.
- Besides, the Roth standard has been subsequently overturned by Miller v. California, 413 U.S.15 (1973).
- It is respectfully submitted that the present complaint does not raise a question of indecency per se, but whether ______ was made to unjustly and unlawfully endure a situation admittedly perpetrated by Mr. Revillame in his show which subjected him to: “ (a) Psychological and physical abuse, xxx emotional maltreatment; and which (b) debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being xxx “ as prohibited under R.A. 7610;
- Furthermore, Mr. Revillame’s protestations that he has no control over the details or segments of his show ring false and hollow. Admittedly, he is the producer and host of the show “Willing Willie”. It was within his power and authority to have stopped the incident from getting worse and to spare the child from further harm. Instead, he led the audience in humiliating the child.
- Respondent Revillame takes refuge in the Freedom of Expression clause of the Bill of Rights, piously intoning that: “It is my duty as a host to interact and respond to the audience” and “in making this social commentary, I am just exercising my freedom of speech and expression.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
- In straying from mere speech to acts which debased and humiliated the subject child, he left the realm of protected speech and crossed over to unprotected, indeed socially harmful and condemnable conduct. Such speech and conduct is NOT protected by the Bill of Rights. As the Supreme Court succinctly explained in the case of Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc., on behalf of the South-South Network (SSN) for Non-State Armed Group Engagement and Atty. Soliman Santos
The Anti-Terrorism Council, The Executive Secretary et. al. (G.R. No. 178552, October 05, 2010 and related cases, October 05, 2010):
“ Utterances not elemental but inevitably incidental to the doing of the criminal conduct alter neither the intent of the law to punish socially harmful conduct nor the essence of the whole act as conduct and not speech. This holds true a fortiori in the present case where the expression figures only as an inevitable incident of making the element of coercion perceptible.
[I]t is true that the agreements and course of conduct here were as in most instances brought about through speaking or writing. But it has never been deemed an abridgement of freedom of speech or press to make a course of conduct illegal merely because the conduct was, in part, initiated, evidenced, or carried out by means of language, either spoken, written, or printed. xxx
Certain kinds of speech have been treated as unprotected conduct, because they merely evidence a prohibited conduct. xxx “ (Emphasis ours)
- Finally, it is most respectfully submitted that all the other justifications interposed by Mr. Revillame are matters of defense which are best presented during the trial of the case. It is most respectfully submitted that there has been a proper showing of probable cause and that the respondent is answerable for the offense of Child Abuse. A preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of the parties’ evidence; it is for the presentation of such evidence only as may engender a well grounded belief that an offense has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof (Paderanga vs. Drilon, G.R. No. 96080, April 19, 1991) .
- As the Supreme Court has held in a long line of cases, the rationalizations made during preliminary investigation “ are all matters of defense which are best presented during the trial before (the) court for its consideration” (Cruz, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 110436, June 27, 1994).
The Quezon City Prosecutor has until July 10 to decide if this will go to trial.