[From the web] CHR Invites TV5, all Media Stakeholders, Child Rights Experts, Advocates and the Public to Discourse on ‘Rights and Role of Children in Media’ – www.chr.gov.ph

This press statement of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines was released last April 28, 2011.  – HRonlinePH

http://www.chr.gov.ph/

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 received numerous requests from many concerned citizens and child rights advocates to act on this incident.

Even before Dr. Carandang wrote the Commission, it had already directed its staff to investigate the matter for purposes of filing the necessary charges before the Department of Justice. Several coordination activities have also been done with other government agencies like the DSWD, MTRCB and DOLE. In view of its broad mandate to promote and protect the rights of every person, particularly children, the Commission decided on a two-pronged approach.

First was to pursue investigation focused on the case as earlier mentioned. Second was the conduct of a national inquiry into the situation of children in the context of difference forms of violence inflicted on them. In support of these two tracks, the Commission called for a consultation meeting to hear the views of Dr. Honey Carandang who is an acclaimed expert on family and child psychology and National Social Scientist. Together with representatives of government agencies such as the Departments of Labor and Employment and Social Welfare & Development, and the MTRCB, the Commission listened to Dr. Carandang’s expert discussions on issues of violence and abuse of children apparent in the case 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 addressed effectively. The Commission is convening these activities to elicit public discourse invoking the power of ‘rights reasoning’. The media 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 Letter-Request to 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.

Recognizing this enormous influence wielded by media, the Commission respects its indispensable role in society as manifested by its innate independence and right to self-regulation. However, this right to self-regulation carries a concomitant responsibility to fully and faithfully comply with standards that prevent 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 and uncalled for. Their sole purpose is to distract the public and the authorities from the issue – whether or not the 6-year old boy’s rights were violated by what had happened to him in the Willing Willie episode. Dr. Carandang’s credentials are affirmed and widely accepted by various individuals and organizations involved in child rights advocacy. Nevertheless, the Commission notes with admiration Dr. Carandang’s suggestion to the Commission to engage the opinions of other psychological experts, which she made during the public consultation.

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. The Commission agrees that the full video must be presented for examination by independent experts. Squarely addressing this “abridged and spliced version”, last 15 April 2011, the Commission delivered a letter addressed to the Chairman of TV5, Manny V. Pangilinan to furnish it the raw and unedited version of the footage. To date, no reply whatsoever has been received by the Commission from TV5 or Mr. Pangilinan.

Revisiting Media Guidelines on Children

Likewise, on April 15, TV5 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.

Guide

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 strongly urge all duty bearers to heed Principle 2 in this regard.

The Commission’s media office has been directed to take necessary actions to address the recirculation of the video, which should be minimized and protective of the 6-year old’s person. All our actions, well-intentioned as it may be, can cause harm, especially to the boy and his family.

LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES
Chairperson

Commission on Human Rights – Philippines

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