Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that under her administration, the DSWD will become even more active when it comes to monitoring the safety and welfare of Filipino children. She said that DSWD units in the country will continue to exercise vigilance when it comes to confirming reports on incidents of child abuse, including child labor exploitation, and rescuing victimized children.
“We want the DSWD to take a more pro-active role when it comes to reporting cases of child abuse; more importantly, we want to promote a mindset among Filipinos that child abuse is wrong and should not be allowed in a society that claims to have respect for children’s rights. There is much to be done to promote children’s rights in the country and to ensure that all Filipino children are given all they need to ensure their growth and development in all aspects so they can one day stand on their own with dignity and even contribute to the well-being of society. Even as we work towards this overall goal, the least that we can do is to stop incidents of child abuse, and make all Filipinos more aware that children also have rights that should be respected,” she said.
In 2015, child abuse cases nationwide numbered 4,374. In the first quarter of 2016 alone, reported cases are pegged at 2,147. These figures are from the Policy Development and Planning Bureau of the DSWD and all cases were handled by the Department through its centers as well as community-based services.
Sec. Taguiwalo shared that just recently, DSWD’s Field Office III in San Fernando Pampanga was able to come to rescue of a little girl who was reportedly beaten by her own mother.
Late last week, posts and a series of pictures circulated in Facebook describing and showing a little girl aged between four and six years old with bruises on her face. The posts were made by the little girl’s alleged biological father .The same post included screenshots of the alleged father’s exchanges with the mother who admitted to have hurt the child and even said that she hoped that the child would hit her own head so she would lose consciousness.
Concerned citizens referred to DSWD FO 3’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Based on the report of FO3, Fe Evaristo, Provincial Team Leader of Pampanga, and Chasmalin G. Francisco coordinated with the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office of Mexico, Pampanga to immediately locate the child and assess the situation.
They contacted the LGU’s social welfare desk which told them it was not the first time the mother was reported to them on a similar incident of child abuse. The mother was previously reported to the barangay when she hurt her eldest child by throwing a kitchen utensil at him. She was alleged to have been remiss in taking care of her children because she has been involved in different romantic relationships. It was reported that Dizon’s eldest child lives with the child’s paternal grandmother and is
now in high school.
DSWD’s FO 3’s Gemma Gabuya gave instructions to social workers prioritize the welfare of the child and immediately have her examined through a medico-legal check-up at the Municipal Health Office.
Through the conduct of collateral interviews, it was discovered that the child was three years old, and that when she was one year old, she lived with her grandfather in Parañaque until she was transferred under the care of the mother’s aunt Mrs. Anita Lagman last December 2015. On June 29 this year, however, Anita’s husband, Mr. Raymundo Lagman was hospitalized due to congested heart failure, so the child was sent to stay with her mother beginning July 2.
On July 9, 2016, the child slipped in the bathroom and bumped her chin where she got wounded. She was returned to the Lagman Family on July 10, 2016. This was when the pictures were posted on Facebook.
In interviews with DSWD personnel, the mother claimed that she did not abuse her child, and that she made there was no abuse that happened. She said that she was was just trying to solicit financial support from the father (who posted the photos) because he does not want to acknowledge paternity of the child.
The mother is currently five months pregnant with her current live-in partner. They solely rely on his income as a construction worker to support their daily needs.
In the meantime, Mrs. Lagman – the erstwhile caregiver of the child, said that neither parent has given anything for the upkeep of the child. She told the DSWD she is willing to cooperate in the filing of case, if necessary.
The DSWD FO3 social workers were able to interview the child and she appeared to be well-groomed except for the wound on her chin. However, she tended to cry at the mention of her mother’s name.
She was observed to be afraid and in fear of her mother. With this, the social worker made the recommendation to have the child subjected to a psychological evaluation on the child. The FO will set a schedule within the week.
Child abuse is punishable by law, with greater penalties if the perpetrators are the parents. In 1992, the Philippines enacted Republic Act 7610, a national law protecting children from all forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. themselves.
“We cannot be indifferent to cases of child abuse when we see it happening around us. Even if we are not directly related to children being abused, we must stand on their behalf. Incidents of child abuse may be reported to the DSWD, barangay offices, the police, or other concerned agencies or non-governmental organizations working on children’s welfare,” Sec. Taguiwalo said.
In the meantime, children themselves may file the complaint, or on their behalf, their parents, guardians, relatives, social workers, the barangay chairperson, or at least 3 concerned citizens may do so.
In 2014, the DSWD reported more than 4,000 cases of child abuse nationwide, with incidents involving infants. Nearly 9% of all cases were concentrated on physical abuse and maltreatment.