DSWD sues Willie Revillame for child abuse

Posted at 04/27/2011 12:55 PM | Updated as of 04/27/2011 4:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) filed Wednesday a complaint against “Willing Willie” host Willie Revillame over a 6-year-old boy's lewd dance in his show last March 12.

The DSWD charged Revillame with violation of Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.

Concerned citizens who joined the complaint include Fr. Robert Reyes, Froilan Grate and blogger Noemi Lardizabal-Dado.

“Our decision to initiate legal proceedings is pursuant to our mandate to protect children who are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is also in response to the public clamor for government intervention regarding Mr. Revillame’s actuations toward the little boy in that unfortunate episode of Willing Willie,” DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said in an official statement.

The incident involved a 6-year-old boy who was made to dance provocatively while tears streamed down his face. The video clip of the episode spread online, triggering public outcry and prompting government agencies to look into the incident.

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 “a wake-up call for everyone” with regard to child protection. “Media practitioners and advertisers were compelled to re-examine their policies and practices relative to shows which involve children and youth,” 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 “the welfare of the child and his family, and others who are or may be placed in a similar situation.”

“We are doing everything we can to help these children. They deserve a better quality of life and we want them to be protected. We want them to enjoy the simple joys of childhood – 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,” she said.

If found guilty of child abuse, Revillame could face 6 to 12 years imprisonment.