‘Insensitive’ child interview on radio sparks backlash


SEVERAL media organizations have condemned the “inappropriate and insensitive” interview conducted recently by two local radio anchormen with a four-year-old girl who is a victim of sexual abuse in Cebu.

The Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ) released a statement on Thursday, March 14, 2024, condemning the actions of Juril Patiño, a lawyer, and Dennes Tabar. The anchors of Brigada News FM Cebu interviewed the sexual abuse victim live on air.

The interview, conducted on Wednesday, March 13, allowed the victim to recount the abuse in detail.

The interview was facilitated by one of the station’s field reporters inside a police station.

Patiño led the live interview, with Tabar providing follow-up questions.

“Giunsa man ka sa imong yoyo inday (What did that man do to you)?” Patiño asked the girl, who replied by narrating her experience at the hands of the perpetrator.

Patiño’s succeeding questions became graphic.

As of Friday, March 15, the live broadcast could still be viewed online. It had already gathered 7,500 views, 144 shares and 120 comments.

SunStar Cebu tried to get comments from Patiño and Tabar through their Facebook accounts, but only Tabar provided a comment as of press time.

Tabar said the statement from CFBJ is problematic. He pointed out that the document lacks a date, fails to mention the broadcasters involved, and it lacks the signature of the person responsible for issuing the statement.

CFBJ statement

A portion of the CFBJ’s statement reads: “As media professionals, we are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics that governs the way we gather and report news. It is our responsibility to ensure that our work does not harm or further traumatize victims of crimes. As human beings, we must also show compassion and empathy towards those who have experienced trauma.”

The CFBJ said the “aggressive and insensitive” interview did not show empathy towards the victim, but it added distress to the girl and hindered her healing process.

“It is unacceptable for journalists to prioritize sensationalism over basic human decency,” CFBJ said.

KBP Cebu statement

Moreover, in a statement released on Friday, March 15, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP)-Cebu also condemned the manner the interview was conducted by the two radiomen, deeming the on-air interview “unacceptable, deplorable, and very disturbing.”

KBP acknowledged, in its statement, that the radio station Brigada News FM-Cebu is a member of the KBP and said it will conduct an impartial investigation to get to the bottom of the issue.

“In that seven-minute video, anchormen Patiño and Tabar paved questions that led the child to vividly relate how she was abused. Patiño even repeatedly made the child utter unrefined words on-air to recount how the perpetrator inserted his sex organ inside her mouth and persistently asked what came out of it. Patiño continued to lead the child to describe the texture and quantity as Mr. Tabar added inquiring about the taste,” the KBP said.

The KBP emphasized that it has a set of rules that broadcasters must adhere to, as outlined in the KBP Broadcast Code of 2007.

Section 3 of Article 3 of the KBP Code of 2007, which pertains to coverage involving children, emphasizes the protection of children involved in legal proceedings, ensuring they are shielded from emotional distress or trauma. Interviews require consent from a parent or guardian, except when they are the accused, and must be conducted under the supervision of qualified professionals.

Section 4 prohibits forcing, coercing, or bribing children to recall or describe traumatic experiences in detail.

Violations against the two provisions were labeled as serious offenses.

Section 3 of Article 25 of the same Code, pertaining to sex, obscenity and pornography, prohibits the explicit depictions of sexual acts, perversions and nudity, categorized as a grave offense.

Additionally, Section 4 prohibits explicit or graphic descriptions of sexual organs and other sensitive body parts, or acts generally deemed indecent or offensive, also categorized as a grave offense.

Article 27, Section 1 of the KBP Code also addresses on-air language, prohibiting the use of vulgar, obscene, or indecent language, which is also classified as a grave offense.

CCPC statement

Meanwhile, when asked for a statement, Cebu Citizens -Press Council (CCPC) executive director and lawyer Pachico Seares said CCPC can help if asked to conduct fact-finding on the incident.

“Under our agreed procedure, KBP handles cases involving broadcast outlets and journalists. The local KBP can help KBP Manila (with) fact-finding. CCPC will also help if asked,” Seares said.

“We may also weigh in later after Atty. Juril and company will have given their side,” he added.

In a statement released on Friday signed by its deputy executive director Noemi Truya-Abarientos, the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) said the interview is considered an act of abuse, worsened by sensationalizing the news story.

CLB said Republic Act 7610 prohibits undue and sensationalized publicity of child abuse cases to prevent moral degradation and suffering. This law aims to uphold the child’s right to privacy and the confidentiality of proceedings, making live streaming of interviews a clear violation.

CLB also called for an investigation by the KBP and urged media practitioners to self-regulate and promote proper coverage of child sexual abuse stories.

SunStar Cebu attempted to obtain statements from the Stet Women in Cebu Media, Cebu City Anti-Indecency Body (Caib) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7, but as of press time, these organizations have yet to provide their statements.

As of this writing, Caib was still discussing the issue in a meeting, said Caib head Lucelle Mercado.


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