The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assured on Thursday (May 25) that the children taken by DSWD social workers from the Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI) orphanage in Quezon City are being well taken care of in the three child care facilities where they were brought Tuesday (May 23) afternoon.
DSWD spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said the children were taken to Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Nayon ng Kabataan in Mandaluyong City, and the Reception and Study Center for Children in Quezon City.
The Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP) had written DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian asking for transparency in the Department’s dealing with the case of GHI “especially as the best interest of the children must be the paramount consideration in any implementation of policies and protocols whatsoever they may be.”
ACCAP is a network of Child Caring Agencies and of which GHI is a member.
“As a concerned organization, we are hoping that the rules and policies in dealing with complaints against child caring agencies (CCAs) and the implementation of such extraordinary remedies in uprooting children from CCAs can be discussed and clarified in a meeting at the soonest possible time,” ACCAP president Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said in her letter.
The DSWD spokesperson assured the ACCAP, as well as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), that the social workers of the Department are doing everything they can to provide “extra loving care” to the children from GFI knowing fully well of the possible trauma that they might experience during the transfer.
“Our social workers are well-trained in handling children who underwent trauma. Our child psychologists are also monitoring the children and ready to talk to them to ensure that they are comfortable, physically and mentally healthy,” Asst. Secretary Lopez said.
The DSWD spokesperson thanked ACCAP and CHR for reminding DSWD of its duty and responsibility of making sure that children’s rights are protected and minimize the trauma to children.
“The Commission reminds duty bearers, as well as child rights advocates, that it is crucial that we minimize the risk of further trauma, hurt, or harm to children when conducting investigative and intervention processes,” the CHR said in a statement Wednesday (May 24).
Upon learning of the Cease-and-Desist Order (CDO) issued by the DSWD due to several violations, the CHR deployed a quick response team to the Gentle Hands orphanage through its Investigation Office and the National Capital Region (NCR) Office.
CHR lawyers and special investigators were present during the May 23 dialogue between DSWD officials and representatives of Gentle Hands at the Central Office.