The Commission on Human Rights issues this press statement to clarify its role, update the public on the progress of its actions and engage all stakeholders in addressing the case of 6-year old Janjan’s appearance on TV show ‘Willing Willie’.
In various newspapers, internet sites and other media, Atty. Leonard de Vera, counsel for Mr. Willie Revillame, producer and host of TV5 variety show, Willing Willie, has been quoted as saying that the CHR bias is very evident in the testimony of self-proclaimed child psychology expert, Dr. Honey Carandang, who has declared Revillame guilty of child abuse without having examined the alleged victim or his family . . . Carandang’s letter triggered the “biased” probe of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Commission on Human Rights and the MTRCB on the case.
Role of the Commission on Human Rights
The Commission, by complaint or on its own, can investigate, inquire and deliberate on the any incident which may violate human rights. In the case of the controversial Willing Willie episode, there are larger concerns that the Commission must address in line with the obligation to promote and protect the rights of children.
The Commission acts on these larger concerns by examining the role that media, advertisers, the Government, parents and the general public must fulfill in the obligation to build a culture of respect for the dignity of children, who are not mere objects commodities, talents or featured guests in public broadcast.
To set the record straight, the case of Janjan was triggered not by Dr. Carandang’s letter, but came as a result of our media monitoring. At the same time, the Commission has received numerous requests from many concerned citizens and child rights advocates to act on this incident.
There have been two meetings concerning this issue where a number of experts, including Dr. Honey Carandang as well as government agencies such as the Departments of Labor and Employment and Social Welfare & Development, have been invited to discuss the issues central of which is the apparent ill -treatment of the 6 – year old child in the show.
These two meetings are part of a series of activities which will be undertaken by the Commission to ensure that the overall theme of “Rights and Role of Children in Media” is address. The Commission is convening these activities to elicit public discourse invoking the power of ‘rights reasoning’. The Broadcast sector and all bearers of the duty to respect, promote and fulfill the rights of the child will be part of this engagement.
Responsibility of Media / Broadcast Sector and the Communication with TV5 Management
The Commission recognizes the might of media and its influential role in molding public opinion, individual mindsets and popular culture.
. . . media give an “image” of the child; they reflect and influence perceptions about who children are and how they behave. This image could create and convey respect for young people; however, it could also spread prejudices and stereotypes which may have a negative influence on public opinion and politicians. 
In wielding this enormous power, the Commission respects its indispensable role in society, its independence and right to self – regulation. However, this right to self – regulation has a concomitant responsibility to fulfill compliance with standards that does not allow the denigration of the dignity and worth of all persons as human beings, especially the vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged.
The aspersions cast against Dr. Carandang being ‘self – proclaimed’ and ‘partial’ having “relied apparently on the Youtube that was maliciously spliced [which has] put Revillame in a very bad light” is misplaced. Her credentials are affirmed with the wide acceptance and appreciation of various individuals and organizations involved in child rights advocacy.
As her credentials speak for itself, so does the video, whether on Youtube, which presents the footage sans the commercial breaks, or the recording of the live broadcast.
In addressing this “abridged and spliced version”, last 15 April 2011, the Commission delivered a letter addressed to the Chairman of TV5, Manny V. Pangilinan. In this communication, it squarely addresses the issue of the Youtube post. This communication has conveyed the Commission’s openness to hear the side of TV5 Management and asks for the full footage of the questioned Willing Willie episode for examination.
Revisiting Media Guidelines on Children
On the same date, TV5 has announced its move to [draft] guidelines on the appearance of children on its entertainment and news programs according to President CEO Ray C. Espinosa.
The Commission, in this respect, reiterates its offer to assist TV5 and all stakeholders in the broadcast sector. In drafting the guidelines, we invite you to begin by revisiting the Media Guidelines on the Reporting and Coverage of Children drafted by the Special Committee for the Protection of Children, an interagency body constituted under Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Filipino Children Act. First drafted in the late 1990s, these were revised through by the Special Committee under the auspices of the Department of Justice together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP), among others.
We underscore Principle 2 of provisions therein:
The child’s dignity must be respected at all times.
The use of sexualized images of children is a violation of the child’s rights. Obscene or pornographic materials, videos, photographs and other related media should not be subjects of circulation, publication or broadcast as it is a violation of the right of the child to dignity and self-worth.
Crimes of violence by or against children must be reported factually and seriously without passing judgment, stereotyping, or sensationalism.
There should be a conscious effort to avoid sensationalism and exploitation of the child in need of any assistance. The release of the child’s identity to elicit financial support or aid for the child’s medical care is strongly discouraged.
The personal circumstance of the child which will tend to sensationalize the case must be avoided. The child’s life should not be treated as a movie.
We urge all duty bearers to heed Principle 2 in this regard.
Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales has ordered the Commission’s media office to take actions on the recirculation of the video, which should be minimized and protective of JanJan’s identity. All our actions, well-intentioned as it may be, can cause harm, especially to the Suan Family who has brought on unwanted limelight in this issue.
 http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/314025/parents-willing-willie-dancing-boy-file-libel-suit-against-carandang-and-others accessed 15 April 2011 and http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2011/04/13/revillame-s-lawyer-slams-human-rights-commission-over-biased-probe-1502 accessed 15 April 2011
 The Child and the Media, the theme of the General Discussion of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which took place on 7 October 1996 at the United Nations Office at Geneva. Available online at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRC/Documents/Recommandations/media.pdf accessed 16 April 2011
 http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/3209-willies-lawyer-slams-chr-carandang accessed on 15 April 2011