MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) – The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has suspended TV host Willie Revillame’s show for one month amid public uproar over its March 12 episode wherein a 6-year-old was cajoled into simulating a striptease.
The MTRCB concluded that the episode of "Willing Willie" violated a law against immoral and indecent broadcasts that run counter to Filipino values.
"Celebrities and TV personalities should exercise the highest degree of care and diligence as they are the most (frequently) seen and their reach and influence is far greater than any other individual," the ruling read.
"It is the responsibility of the network and their talents to educate themselves regarding gender sensitivity, children and women's rights issues... and (how to treat) other marginalized sectors of society."
The board decided to put “Willing Willie” under suspension to prevent the show from further committing violations of Section 3 of the Presidential Decree No. 1986.
MTRCB chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares clarified that the resolution did not touch allegations of child exploitation or abuse, saying it is up to a criminal court to determine if it indeed took place. The board is also going to consider and count the voluntary suspension of “Willing Willie” when the latter went off air before Holy Week or last April 11.
Crediting the days that the show suspended itself is one way of encouraging self-regulation among television producers, the MTRCB chief said.
“We’re trying to see how responsible our producers can prove themselves to be,” she said.
Meanwhile, in a text message to ABS-CBN News, Revillame’s legal counsel, lawyer Leonard de Vera, said: “We reserve the legal option to file a Motion for Reconsideration to the decision of the MTRCB. We are, however, comforted by the MTRCB not having found that Willie or the program or TV5 committed acts of child abuse or exploitation or child cruelty.”
Permit per episode
Once the show goes on-air again, the MTRCB is requiring TV5 to apply for a permit to air the show every day.
The board will implement a “permit per episode” basis until they see reforms and changes in the said show.
“To get the permit the next day, they have to submit the episode they aired for that day. We’re going to look what they [feature] in the actual show. [It will be] the basis to see if they violated any part of our charter,” Llamanzares told ANC’s “Top Story.”
She said the members of MTRCB’s monitoring team will take turns reviewing the episode.
“Also a board member would periodically review that. We usually have 3 board members randomly assigned and it changes. We don’t have definite group,” she said.
New rating system
Meanwhile, MTRCB also called on various television networks to cooperate with Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and Philippine Association of National Advertisers for the betterment of TV shows.
Llamanzares will also push for an overhaul in the current ratings system to include “M” for mature audience, “SPG” for strong parental guidance and others.
She said the board has begun discussing about implementing a new rating system as early as March when it convened. She said it is still open for discussion among industry leaders.
“The reason we do this is because, if we find any violation, it would be easier to implement a remedial measure,” she said.
“What we’re trying to avoid is always suspending a show and taking it out of airing. So maybe with the new rating system, what we can do is compel the [producers] to move [their shows] to a different timeslot unless they can prove that they are worthy of going back to an earlier timeslot with a wider audience,” she added.
She also appealed on parents to guide their children, and report any violation to the MTRCB.
The Department of Justice is also conducting a separate investigation into possible child abuse violations concerning the same episode.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) welcomed the decision of the MTRCB.
"It's important that the MTRCB recognized that something wrong was done during that particular episode of Willing Willie. It strengthens the effort to review and tighten existing guidelines for children who appear on television as talent and/or as contestants in talents shows,” DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said in a statement.
Soliman said the decision “affirms our advocacy for the protection of the rights of children, including those who are part of the entertainment industry.”
The DSWD is committed to pursue its mandate to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of children everywhere, she added.
–Reports from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News, and Agence France-Presse