Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo reminded all television and radio stations to be mindful of children’s rights when casting them in any kind of program or when putting them in situations that make them vulnerable.

This is in reaction to the current issue involving Badjao teenager who felt ridiculed by her housemates in the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) reality program produced by the ABS-CBN tv network.

“Ang mga nagpapatakbo ng programa ay may responsibilidad na tiyakin ang kaliktasan ng kabaataang bahagi ng show laban sa pang-aabuso at exploitation. Dapat maging gabay nila ang Republic Act 7610, na nagtatakda ng mga karapatan ng mga bata na dapat pangalagaan. Although reality show ang PBB at hindi hawak ng programa ang magiging reaksyon ng mga kabataan sa loob ng bahay, dapat masiguro na ang kagandahang asal ay malaking bahagi ng mensahe ng programang ito (The production staff has the responsibility to ensure that the teenagers in their show are protected from abuse and exploitation, especially as we have a law, Republic Act (RA) 7610, which provides for their rights. Although PBB is a reality show and the staff does not have a hold over the reactions of the youth real time, they should ensure that the program imparts positive messages),” Sec. Taguiwalo stressed.

RA 7610 or the “Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, and for other Purposes” stipulates that child abuse includes words, action, deed, or any condition prejudicial to the child’s development.

The same law specifically notes that the children who are employed must be protected from any form of abuse and exploitation which may affect or degrade the child’s development . The same law also has clear stipulations against children being exploited in programs.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that the other children who made fun of the Badjao girl’s clothing must also be made aware of the consequences of their action, which can already be considered to be a form of bullying. They should be made to realize that their actions were disrespectful and hurtful,” she said.

The Secretary also expressed caution against what she said was the tendency of the show to create situations that will prompt emotional – good or bad – responses from the “housemates” who happen to be, in this latest installment of the show – minors.

The Secretary emphasized, “Youth-oriented programs must impart positive messages that encourage viewers to be more socially aware and compassionate towards others. We are against censorship and we fully support freedom of speech and expression, but the television networks must also exercise responsibility in the exercise of these rights. It would be better if they do not create situations which make the youth emotionally vulnerable to make their actions in the show more “ratings friendly” and to have them “trend” on social media. They should instead, produce programs that help young audiences find effective role models they can emulate.” #