MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday formally filed a case against “Willing Willie” host Willie Revillame for violation of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the ‘Special protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.’
This is in connection with the show’s March 12 episode where a six-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,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
“This also led government agencies and child rights advocates to step up their campaign for the promotion of childrenâ€™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,” she added.
Soliman stressed that the decision to charge Revillame was done with much deliberation and fully cognizant of the need to protect the child and his family.
She added that from a policy perspective, as lead agency in social welfare and development, the DSWD intensified our coordination with concerned agencies and stakeholders for the protection and promotion of the rights of children.
The DSWD chief also said that their 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.
In a separate interview, Atty. Nancy Quimpo of DSWD said the Jan-Jan incident was a clear violation of RA 7610 since it involves “emotional and psychological cruelty to a child” including debasement and humiliation.
Soliman said the incident served as â€œa wake-up call for everyoneâ€ with regard to child protection. â€œMedia practitioners and advertisers were compelled to re-examine their policies and practices relative to shows which involve children and youth,â€ she noted.
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and Commission on Human Rights are already investigating the incident.
Revillame’s lawyer, Leonard de Vera, earlier criticized Soliman for prejudging the incident without proper investigation. He said social wokers only interviewed the boy after Soliman had already issued a statement that there was child abuse on the show.
Soliman maintained that there is no political angle nor hidden agenda in their move to file the complaint.
She said the department is only promoting â€œthe welfare of the child and his family, and others who are or may be placed in a similar situation.â€
“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. They deserve a better quality of life and we want them to be protected. We want them to enjoy the simple joys of childhood â€“ 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,â€ she said.
If found guilty of child abuse, Revillame could face 6 to 12 years imprisonment.