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Miscellaneous

CWC tells Senate DSWD move to secure kids from GHI in best interest of children

The head of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) on Wednesday (July 5) maintained that the move by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to transfer the children-residents of Gentle Hands Inc.(GHI) to DSWD-managed facilities was in the best interest of the children.

Undersecretary Angelo M. Tapales, CWC executive director, told the Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations, and Gender Equality that the best interest of the child was considered by the DSWD during the transfer of the children from GHI’s Quezon City childcare facility to the DSWD-run centers and residential care facilities two months ago.

“The best interest of the child necessarily entails primacy, immediacy, and supremacy. It does not bow down or it is not subsumed by limitations on the cost of renovation, the absence of permits,” Undersecretary Tapales said in his opening statement.

The CWC chief told the Senate fact-finding hearing chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros that DSWD’s action to immediately take custody of the children was undertaken to ensure the protection of the children who are sheltered at the GHI’s Quezon City facility, which has issues with fire safety, sanitation, and overcrowding.

“The best interest of the child refers to the totality of the circumstances and conditions which are most congenial to the survival, protection, and feelings of security of the child, and most encouraging to his development,” Usec. Tapales said.

The CWC executive director also expressed concern about the focus of the discussion in the Senate hearing, which revolved around paperwork and alleged procedural violations, and not the safety issues that the childcare facility is facing.

“But let us talk about these children. There are violations before… The (DSWD) secretary has been repeatedly speaking the totality. Let us not compartmentalize the focus of this hearing to the actual taking (of children from GHI),” Usec. Tapales pointed out.

The CWC undersecretary, who is a lawyer, even told the Senate committee that “a residential care facility that does not understand the importance of the best interest of the child might be in the wrong line of work.”

“These are merely secondary to what is really happening now at the ground. Violation of the fire code and now a violation of the building code which necessarily imperils the structural integrity of the building,” Usec. Tapales emphasized.

The CWC chief urged the Senate committee to examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the GHI case, stressing that need to take steps that promote and protect the rights and well-being of every child.

The Council for the Welfare is mandated to formulate and evaluate policies, and coordinate and monitor the implementation and enforcement of all laws and programs for children.

The CWC was created through Presidential Decree 603, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code in 1974.

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