child exploitation

Social Media: TV5's Willie Revillame allegedly bullies 6 year old boy on TV

Social media is in an uproar as news that Willie Revillame bullied Jan-Jan, a 6 year old boy on television circulates the Internet. Willing Willie trends on twitter because of this child abuse case. The MTRCB is cognizant of the case and will have a hearing on it.  The DSWD has likewise taken action. TV5, Willing Willie and Willie Revillame have issued a formal statement of apology.

[Editor’s note: this is a developing story, and this entry will be updated as story changes.]

The said segment is this video showing the boy dancing moves that adult dancers in indecent shows do (This video in published so the reader may judge on his or own the story matter. Viewer discretion is highly advised):

Willing Willie trends on twitter because of Child abuse case

On Ellen Tordesilla’s blog, she wrote “Willie, please stop humiliating the poor and quoted a letter by Cathy G. Babao who wrote,”

“Poverty must never be an excuse to humiliate people. A child must be allowed to be a child. This terrible experience has probably left a mark on your soul and my prayer is that you will not be damaged by it forever. And this is why this insanity has to stop.

I have no explanation for the way that the crowd treated you that evening. I feel very sad at what we have become as a people. That these adults would actually find it entertaining to see a young boy like you shamed that way. That these so-called adults did not see beyond the lewd gyrations to see the little boy with warm tears running down his face. It pains me that we have become so desensitized as a people, that we would allow a child to suffer that way. But for me, the biggest fault that evening falls on Willie Revillame’s shoulders. I have no explanation for what possessed him to egg on the crowd, to say those words to you, to liken you to a burlesk dancer. Willie had the power in that moment to stop, no, to prevent you from even performing your dance number. Had he done so, he may have even redeemed himself in a way. But what did he do? He gave you the money that you perhaps came for so that you could give it to your parents who for the life of me perhaps did not know any better than to send you there. And he egged you on…”

On the Official Gazette, the government explained why it is publishing Secretary Soliman’s letter to Manny Pangilinan, Chairman of ABC Development Corporation, owner of TV5 station where the program aired, “During the March 12, 2011 episode of the TV5 prime-time gameshow Willing Willie, six-year old Jan-Jan Estrada was forced to dance under humiliating and abusive circumstances. The Aquino administration is of the belief that not everything is within the commerce of man, and for this reason we are publishing on the Official Gazette this letter by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman. Addressed to ABC Development Corporation Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, the letter identifies Estrada as a victim of child abuse under Republic Act 7610.”

This is a snippet of DSWD Secretary Soliman’s letter to ABC Chairman Manny Pangilinan regarding this issue (alternative link here):

“Under Republic Act No. 7610, also known as “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”, the term “child abuse” includes the following acts: “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.”

Given that definition, it is unmistakable that what happened last 12 March 2011 to Jan-Jan Estrada was child abuse.

Persuading a little child to dance sexy adult dances in exchange for a measly sum, while he is being laughed at and ridiculed will definitely traumatize the child. What kind of values are we teaching our children through these shows, especially after Willie Revillame pushed Jan-Jan to do something against his will and then told him that it’s alright because he will receive money in exchange for it?

Given the foregoing, I am requesting that:

(1) Young children not be allowed to appear in Willing Willie and other similar shows in the network that cashes in on poverty;
(2) Host Willie Revillame be rebuked for his insensitive and deplorable actions.

There are limits to children appearing on television, and clearly, your 12 March 2011 episode did not respect the rights of the child and traumatized the six year-old boy. I also wish to raise my concern that the show tends to cash in on the plight of the poor. There are other ways of helping the poor without having to degrade their dignity and earn money out of it.”

The DSWD has issued a formal statement, condemning the “emotional abuse and humiliation bestowed on a six-year-old child contestant” .

The father, JoJo Estrada posted this on his Facebook*:

The Philippines’ Movie Television Review and Classification Board has referred the matter to a Hearing and Adjudication. Here is the MTRCB’s statement**:

“The Board received numerous complaints about the 12 March 2011 episode of “Willing Willie” aired over Kapatid Network TV5 where a six-year old boy contestant was shown to be gyrating and impersonating the body movements of a macho dancer.

In accordance with the Board’s duty to enforce the Constitutional mandate that the State shall defend the rights of children from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development, the Board has referred the matter to the Hearing and Adjudication Committee for appropriate disposition.

The Board further emphasizes that whenever children are featured in television programs, producers are mandated to observe legal standards stipulated in R.A. 7160 to avoid “psychological abuse xxx cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment” and “any act by deeds and words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child.”


Here are some tweet reactions:

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Some sources:
*hat tip Cherry.
**hat tip Leah Navarro.