"Hindi na ho."
This was controversial TV host Willie Revillame’s reply when asked in a radio interview if he was pursuing his threat to sue the celebrities who "attacked" him on Twitter.
A number of well-known entertainment personalities posted tweets saying they were incensed by the March 12 episode of Willie’s game-and-variety show on TV5, Willing Willie, where a six-year-old boy danced to a "macho-dance" routine and was sent home with P10,000.
Some of the celebrities Willie hit during the April 8 episode of his program were singers Jim Paredes, Aiza Seguerra, Agot Isidro, and Lea Salonga, actress Mylene Dizon, TV host Bianca Gonzales, comedienne Tuesday Vargas and K Brosas, and censors board member Leah Navarro. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
Willie made this comment in an interview with dzIQ (Radyo Inquirer) anchors Mon Tulfo and Reysie Amado last Friday, April 15.
"Alam n’yo, ganun talaga ang buhay," Willie told the hosts. "Ang masama lang, humuhusga sila na hindi pa nila alam ang kabuuan, ang istorya.
"E, paano kami magtutulung-tulungan kung ganyan—hati, hindi ho ba? ’Tsaka masama ho yata yung ganung naghuhusga ka sa kapwa mo na hindi mo pa alam ang totoo."
However, Willie did not say why he was no longer pursuing the suit.
TV5 BACKS UP WILLIE. The TV host also thanked the management of TV5 for backing him in this controversy. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
"E, alam naman ho nila kung ano ang totoo," Willie said. "Si Atty. Ray [Espinosa], our president of TV5, siya na mismo nagsabi, ’Alam mo Willie, kaya ka namin sinusuportahan dahil alam naming wala kang kasalanan. Kaya kami all the way para sa ’yo.’
"Ang punto ko lang naman ho—ngayon, nasaan ang pamilya? Sino nag-aalaga? Di ba ako? Kami?"
Willie was referring to the six-year-old contestant, Jan-Jan Suan, and his parents, Jojo and Diana.
He said that Jojo Suan has had to close his beauty parlor, which was the source of his livelihood.
"Nasaan na ho ang pamilya ngayon? Ni hindi na makapagtrabaho. Sinarado na ang parlor," Willie said.
"Ano ang ginawa ko? Tinawagan ko si Senator [Manny] Villar. ’Senator, kailangan ko ng isang bahay at lupa para sa pamilyang ito. Kawawa naman ho itong mga taong ito.’
"Isang sandali lang, isang salita lang, bibigyan kaagad.
"Ano ang sabi ko sa pamilyang ito? ’Kahit mawalan ako ng trabaho, tutulungan ko kayo hanggang sa makaahon kayo sa hirap ng buhay.’
"Alam naman natin ang sitwasyon ng pamilyang ito—ang father niya ay may parlor, ang nanay niya ay may karamdaman.
"Sila, e, naghahangad lang ho para sa kanilang anak. Naghahangad lang ho sila na umangat ang kanilang buhay."
Willie also said that what happened on his show was all just for fun and there was no malice involved.
"Wala namang malisya ’yan sa aking paningin. Kaya nagtatawanan ang lahat, hindi pinagtatawanan ang bata. Naging masaya, natuwa," he said.
CHILD-ABUSE ALLEGATION. Willie also reacted to psychologist Ma. Lourdes "Honey" Carandang’s statement that Jan-Jan suffered trauma because of the incident.
"Wala naman hong trauma yung bata," he stressed.
"Ang totoo, tumatawag sa akin yung pamilya araw-araw, nagre-report sa akin... Alam mo sabi sa akin ng bata dahil sa ginagawa nila? ’Makukulong ho ba kayo ng tatay ko?’
"Imagine, pumapasok sa isip ng bata? ’Hindi,’ sabi ko, ’wala. Biro lang ’yon.’
"’Yan ang trauma, ’yan ang harassment sa bata. Kasi sa parlor nila, sinarado na, lahat daw nakatutok, kumakatok, merong natutuwa, may humuhusga.
"Pero yung bata ho nagsisikap... nagpapa-picture dun sa mga tao."
As for the criticisms, Willie said he is not hurt by them.
"Hindi kasi ako guilty of anything, so hindi ako nasasaktan. Tumatawa lang ako. Wala ’yan kasi... Masama ho niyan, ’sinusulat n’yo ako ng maganda, puro kabutihan, pero guilty naman ako—mas nakakatakot po ’yon dahil hindi ako makakatulog.
"Pero nakakatulog po ako nang mahimbing gabi-gabi kasi wala naman ho talagang child exploitation o child abuse.
"Kasi, four years old pa lang po yung bata, yun na ang sinasayaw niya sa program sa eskuwelahan, sa mall..."
Willie also hinted that these attacks might have something to do with his ongoing case with his former home network, ABS-CBN.
"Alam n’yo kasi, mahirap ho, una, may kaso ako sa isang network.
"Hindi naman ho ako namimintang. Pero siyempre ho, sama-sama na ’yan. Baka may nakikihalubilo, may nakikisawsaw na..."
Host Mon Tulfo interrupted him to say, "Halata, halatang-halata may nakisawsaw. Kasi yung kay Carandang na lang, e, nanay ito pala ni Ricky Carandang na taga-ABS-CBN o galing sa ABS-CBN."
Ricky Carandang is a former anchor and correspondent of ANC, ABS-CBN’s news channel. He is now part of President Noynoy Aquino’s communications team as a spokesperson.
Tulfo, whose brothers have shows in TV5, also said about Dr. Carandang, "At hindi niya in-examine... dapat talagang face-to-face examination yung ginawa niya dun sa bata.
"E, base lang dun sa YouTube ay nanghusga na siya na nagkaroon ng trauma yung bata at may child exploitation. E, klarong-klaro ’yan."
Willie, on the other hand, said, "Isipin n’yo, ni hindi niya ako nakakausap, ni hindi man lang niya pinakinggan yung side namin.
"Pag nakikita niya ang programa, ang nagmamahal sa akin, ang mga nanay at mga lola, at mga bata, ang programang Willing Willie hangga’t Wowowee pa lang.
"Saka sana ho ’pinatawag niya ako, ’O, Willie ano ba ang nangyari?’ E, naghusga agad. Sumulat sa MTRCB na i-sanction ako, tanggalin yung programa kasi daw binastos ko si Tita Cory.
"Pati daw [ULTRA] stampede, ako ang may kasalanan. Ano ang kasalanan ko sa stampede? Ako ba naghahawak ng security ng mga tao? Ako ba yung natutulog nung may nangyaring gano’n? E, lahat nung mga namatay na yun, dinalaw ko sa morgue, humingi ako ng tawad, nakaluhod ako sa mga matatanda."
DR. CARANDANG DENIES ALLEGATIONS. For her part, Dr. Carandang has issued a statement denying allegations that she is part of a conspiracy to attack Willie.
She said that she was only expressing her opinion, which was solicited by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), when she spoke about the treatment Jan-Jan received on Willie’s show.
“In recent days, it has been insinuated by the lawyers of Revillame that I am part of some grand conspiracy to ’bring down’ Revillame and his TV program.
"This is simply not true. I merely expressed an opinion as solicited by the CHR and the MTRCB,” she said.
Speaking of her credentials, Carandang said that in her more than 30 years as a practicing professional, she has worked with groups such as Unicef, Ausaid, International Labor Organization, Rockefeller Foundation, ABS-CBN Foundation, and the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education.
She added, “The actions I take are mine and are shared by the members of the MLAC Institute for Children and Families. Our main mission is to uphold the dignity of the Filipino child and to advocate for truth-telling."
Carandang also pointed out that she has been working pro-bono with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for several years. She said she has provided counseling to victims of disaster, violent crimes, sexual abuse, and people with other problems.
As for her letter to the MTRCB on April 3, she said that she sent this upon the agency’s request to get her sentiments on the boy’s experience.
“It is my belief, as a clinical psychologist, parent, and TV viewer that the treatment of that child on the program was indeed a form of abuse. It is a view that is apparently shared by a significant number of people both here and now abroad,” Dr. Carandang said.
Jan-Jan’s parents, Jojo at Diana Suan, filed a libel case against Dr. Carandang and bloggers John Silva and Froilan Grate at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office last April 13. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
NO HAND. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN issued a statement saying that it has "no hand" in the latest Willing Willie controversy.
The network, through its Corporate Communications Department, denounced the “incredible” allegation as a “general accusation bereft of any details and is obviously meant to divert the issue by dragging ABS-CBN’s name.”
It added, "We categorically deny that ABS-CBN has anything to do with the Jan-Jan episode. Records speak for itself. We are not a complainant in this case, and have not made any public statement about it.
“Indeed, it is incredible that ABS-CBN, as insinuated by Atty. Leonard De Vera [Willie’s legal counsel], can possibly have control over the countless groups and individuals who have expressed their indignation over the issue, including Facebook, Twitter, major advertisers, government bodies, the church, academic communities, among others."
Willing Willie is currently off-the-air and will return after the Holy Week.