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Apology over boy, six, mocked on TV

A popular TV game show in the Philippines has been forced to apologise after featuring a boy of six being mocked by the audience as he tries to dance and sing.

The boy was in tears when he performed as a contestant on an episode of Willing Willie, a variety talent and game show which features mostly poor Filipinos who earn cash prizes for singing, dancing, telling their stories or playing games.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman condemned "the emotional abuse and humiliation" suffered by the boy.

She said that host Willie Revillame and the audience showed no concern for him and that the programme broke the law on child abuse.

It was not clear if Revillame and channel TV5 will face charges. The government's Commission on Human Rights and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board said it will investigate.

TV5 apologised on behalf of Revillame and the station, saying there was no intention to humiliate the boy who was accompanied by his aunt who approved his performance.

It said the boy appeared to be in tears, not because he was forced to dance, but because he became scared of a towering former basketball player who also was on the set. The boy earned a prize of 10,000 pesos (£144) for his dance.

Women's group Gabriela said the dance was punctuated by the live audience's loud cheers and guffaws and was an act of child abuse.

"Putting pressure on children to do acts such as mimicking adult sexy dances, in exchange for a certain amount of money, and at the expense of being laughed at and ridiculed by hundreds of people, clearly traumatises the child," Ms Soliman said in her statement.

"This is a clear form of child abuse and will not be tolerated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development."

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