San Mateo execs rapped over ‘nude festival’
The San Mateo municipal government will file criminal and administrative complaints against some barangay (village) officials who reportedly required the child participants in a “palaro,” or sports competition, to be naked.
Mayor Rafael Diaz ordered the filing of charges after a crew from television network ABS-CBN showed him pictures of naked children playing traditional Filipino games during a celebration in Barangay Guitnang Bayang 2 earlier this month.
The photos featured several children aged 11 to 13 racing in the buff, filling bottles of water with their urine or playing “palo-sebo” (a game in which participants try to be first to climb to the top of a greased pole) in their underwear.
In a phone interview, Diaz said the local Department of Social Welfare and Development would file administrative and criminal charges with the municipal council and Prosecutor’s Office as soon as they identify the barangay officials behind the palaro.
Citing Republic Act 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, the mayor said the barangay officials had “dehumanized” the child participants.
“Everybody in the pictures is an accomplice. No one stopped the games and even the children’s parents gave [their] consent,” Diaz added.
Among the officials seen in the photos were barangay chairman Leo Buenviaje and Rizal provincial board member Jojo Mariano.
Diaz said members of the Commission on Human Rights went to San Mateo Wednesday to conduct an investigation. The municipal council would also decide if a 60-day preventive suspension would be imposed on Buenviaje and the other officials.
Sought for comment, Buenviaje said the “nude festival” in his barangay had been a tradition for over two decades.
He said the nine-day celebration of the Feast of Señor de Burgos culminated on June 13 with a Holy Mass and a palaro whose participants included both adults and children.
“I was not the one behind the mechanics of the games. I had just attended Mass when the event outside the chapel caught my attention and I stayed to watch,” Buenviaje said, adding that he and the other officials were ready to face the charges that would be filed against them.
Diaz, on the other hand, said that he had yet to hear of a “nude festival” in the town.
“There’s no such tradition because this has no cultural value. How can they derive entertainment from this?” he added.
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