MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 3) Beleaguered television host Willie Revillame announced Friday his program would go off air for two weeks starting Monday following a crippling ad pullout by major sponsors.
?Pasensya na ho muna wala muna hong ?Willing Willie? (I?m sorry there will be no ?Willing for Willie? for a while),? said Revillame at the end of his show Friday as he maintained he did not abuse the boy who gyrated like a macho dancer in his show.
The highest paid TV personality also hit broadside at critics, telling government agencies to instead focus on helping the poor and threatened with lawsuit those who attacked him on Twitter.
Revillame, 50, said the top-rating program would be on hiatus for two weeks and after the Holy Week the management of TV5 would decide if the show must go on.
?Sana ay ipagdasal ninyo na makabalik pa ang programang ito (I hope you will pray for this program to be back on air),? he said to the applause of about 200 studio audience.
?Willing Willie?s? March 12 episode on TV5, which featured a crying six-year-old boy while simulating a striptease as show host Willie Revillame laughed and egged him on, triggered strong rebuke from the public and government?s rights and social welfare agencies.
Cyber activists formed social media groups demanding for Revillame?s removal from ?Willing Willie? and calling for a product boycott of the show?s sponsors, a move whose impact is unprecedented in the country?s history of consumer activism.
Jollibee Foods Corporation last Saturday announced it was ?holding off? ad placements of its newly-acquired Mang Inasal restaurant chain.
On Tuesday, Procter & Gamble Philippines said it suspended advertising on the show ?while the incident is being reviewed and investigated by authorities." Del Monte Pacific Ltd. also said it was pulling out sponsorship of the beleaguered primetime game show.
CDO Foodsphere Inc. on Friday announced it, too, was withdrawing sponsorship of the show. ?True to our statement dated March 31, 2011, this is to announce that our sponsorship in Willing Willie will already end on April 9, 2011,? the food firm said in a brief statement posted on its website.
CDO said Thursday the controversial episode "jolted us out of our comfort zones" even as it maintained it was "in no position to pass judgement" on the issue.
Earlier Friday, the country's largest pawnshop chain, Cebuana Lhuillier Pawnshop, announced it would also stop advertising on ?Willing Willie? beginning Monday.
Unilever, meanwhile, said it was suspending ad placements starting Monday ?in all reality-based live game shows across all networks.?
Revillame expressed disappointment over the pullout even as he asked televiewers not to be ?mad? at them because ?they were just following their bosses? orders.?
At the same time, he clarified that the show was not suspended by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, which has an ongoing inquiry into the incident, which the Commission on Human Rights described as ?child abuse.?
Revillame said there was disagreement among members of the MTRCB on how to deal with the issue, and expressed gratitude that three of its members he claimed to have linkage with rival network ABS-CBN have inhibited themselves from the case.
He reiterated that there was no abuse committed during the March 12 episode of ?Willing Willie.?
?Wala akong ginawang masama sa batang iyon (I did not do anything wrong with that child),? Revillame said.
Revillame named the celebrities who criticized him on microblogging site Twitter and threatened he might file charges against them. He mentioned the names of Jim Paredes, Lea Salonga, Aiza Seguerra, Leah Navarro, Bianca Gonzalez, K Brosas, Agot Isidro and Tuesday Vargas as among those who attacked him.
He also uttered scathing remarks against the ABS-CBN Corporation, which has filed a multi-million lawsuit against him for alleged breach of contract. With reports from Karen Boncocan, Don Lejano and Kate Evangelista, INQUIRER.net