MANILA – After a British tabloid published a story about the government caging the street children in Manila to give way for the visit of Pope Francis, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman denied claims saying there’s no truth in it.
Recently, an article published in Daily Mail Online said that the government caged hundreds of street children who are loitering in Manila streets in a bid to clean up the city in time for the Papal visit. The article also featured photos in support of the story.
Following the dismissal of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Interior Secretary Manual Roxas II, Soliman said that the photos were taken a long time ago.
“We are not hiding the children. In fact, more than 400 street children will be singing during the send-off for Pope Francis on Monday. They have been practicing since December. The Pope will see and interact with them,” defended Soliman.
Included in the 400 are the beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, abandoned children, and those who are under the rehabilitation centers of DWSD.
Soliman also noted that the photos in the article “were taken in the past.” One of which is the photo of Frederico, the one kept in an Ermita children’s center that apparently has “concentration camp-like conditions.”
The story about Frederico surfaced in November 2014. The Social Welfare Department already demanded the closure of the Reception and Action Center.
“Federico has already gained weight and is being cared for by an NGO with DSWD. We have found his mother and we are currently doing case work management with the mother,” Soliman explained.
The Daily Mail also reported that there are hundreds of children kept in various centers in Parañaque and Pasay City.
According to Soliman, she already ordered to investigate these claims.
“We do not tolerate this practice. We put child abusers in jail,” Soliman said.