The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday "condemned" the “emotional abuse and humiliation” it said was inflicted on a six-year-old boy in an episode of Willing Willie, even as Willie Revillame and TV5 apologized for the episode.
In the said episode dated March 12, the show’s contestant, Jan-jan, was in tears as he gyrated on stage to Snoop Dog’s, “The Next Episode” during the Wiltime Bigtime segment of the program. The boy’s performance was egged on with cheers and laughter from the audience and Revillame, and also by the approving presence of his aunt, Josie, who accompanied Jan-Jan on the show.
“Umiiyak pa yan! (And he's even crying!)” an amused Revillame said.
“Ganyan na ho ang hirap ng buhay ng tao...siyempre nagsasayaw siya bilang macho dancer sa edad nyang ‘yan para sa mahal niyang pamilya (That’s how tough life is. He’s a macho dancer at this age all for the love of his family) ,” Revillame said, laughing.
Jan-jan was given P10,000 by Revillame after his appearance on the show. His aunt also was given P3,000.
According to the DSWD, the show violated Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act as well as a manifestation of child abuse. Under the law, “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,” are included in the acts of child abuse.
The DSWD also rebuked the “insensitive actions and remarks” of Revillame.
“Putting pressure on children to do acts such as mimicking adult sexy dances, in exchange for a certain amount of money, and at the expense of being laughed at and ridiculed by hundreds of people, clearly traumatizes the child. This is a clear form of child abuse and will not be tolerated,” the DSWD said in a statement .
The DSWD said they have asked ABC Development Communication Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan to prohibit children from appearing in shows like Willing Willie. The department is currently seeking Jan-jan’s family to determine whether the boy needs counselling or stress debriefing.
TV5 and Revillame issued an apology on Monday for the incident.
"We wish to stress that there was never any intention to humiliate or abuse Jan-Jan or any contestant on the show," the statement read.
According to the statement, Jan-jan was in tears, "not because he was being forced to dance, but because he felt the dance was 'serious' and he was playing a role."
It added: "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'."
Video of the controversial episode with Jan-Jan has been circulating on the web and social media sites, and Revillame has caught the ire of the blogosphere for the said incident. Bloggers have hit Revillame for "humiliating" the boy in front of millions of Filipinos. At least one online petition is calling for the attention of the Commission on Human Rights. There have also been open letters addressed to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.