MANILA, Philippines???Wag n?yo akong dikdikin. ?Di ako masamang tao. (Don?t pulverize me. I?m not a bad person.) I just want to help the poor.?
Thus declared beleaguered TV host Willie Revillame, whose game show ?Willing Willie? goes off the air for two weeks starting Monday, in reaction to a host of critics and detractors.
Revillame has threatened to sue for libel show-biz personalities who had posted negative comments about him on the Web.
Revillame delivered an emotional 25-minute speech at the end of his program on Friday night. Among other things, he accused celebrities Lea Salonga, Jim Paredes, Aiza Seguerra, Tuesday Vargas, Agot Isidro, Mylene Dizon and Bianca Gonzalez of ?prejudging? him on the microblogging site Twitter.
?We belong to the same industry. Instead of passing judgment prematurely, you should be helping me help other people,? he said in Filipino. ?You?ve destroyed my person. Are you helping the poor? You should first look in the mirror and ask yourself this question: What good have you done for your country??
Revillame also announced his decision to support TV5?s plan to charge blogger and culture critic John L. Silva with libel.
In his site www.johnsilva.blogspot.com, the blogger branded Revillame and TV5, which coproduces and airs ?Willing Willie,? as pedophiles. This was in connection with Revillame?s alleged exploitation of a 6-year-old boy who performed a ?macho dance? during the show?s March 12 episode.
The incident has drawn negative reactions from government agencies like the Commission on Human Rights, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as well as the Catholic Bishops? Conference of the Philippines.
As a result of the controversy, five major corporations?Jollibee Foods Corp., Del Monte Pacific Ltd., Procter & Gamble Philippines, Unilever Philippines and CDO Foodsphere Inc.?have pulled out their ads in the show.
?I was deeply hurt by the statement released by Procter & Gamble and Mang Inasal, (a Jollibee franchise). It was too personal,? Revillame said.
?I am thankful to the executives of Unilever, who sat down with me to discuss the issue. They said that to be fair to me, they are suspending ad placements in all live game shows across all networks,? he said.
Just ?helping the poor?
Revillame said the show would take a two-week break.
But he hinted that it might not come back: ?I will rest until the Holy Week. I will think hard about whether I will return to the industry. I hope you will pray for this program to be back on air.?
He added: ?I am willing to give up my salary for the sake of the show. I?ll use it for the prizes. We can still run the show even if advertisers have abandoned us. We will ask help from the [network] president (Ray E. Espinosa), from Manny Pangilinan (TV5 chair). Even if we lose profit.?
Revillame called on government leaders who had accused him of committing ?acts of child abuse? not to constantly look for someone to blame but instead help make a difference.
He said that while he had not wished to disclose it, he had donated P500,000 ?just so the [overseas Filipino workers] in Lebanon could finally go back home.?
He also said that he was ?taking care? of the 6-year-old?s family.
?I call them every day just to check on them. That?s what you should do, DSWD. There are a lot of [boys like him] out there,? he said.