MANILA, Philippines – As Manila’s Reception and Action Center (RAC) faces imminent closure, two lawmakers are seeking a congressional inquiry into its alleged “neglect and maltreatment” of street children.
The facility, run by the Manila Social Welfare Department (MSWD), first came to the public’s attention in October 2014, when photos and the story of the shockingly emaciated Frederico were reported.
The skin and bones child, who was photographed lying naked on the floor inside RAC, is now doing well in another institution and has gained weight. Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced it was “in the process of closing RAC.”
Inspite of the imminent closure of the facility, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez and ABAMIN Representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr have filed House Resolution 1891, calling for an investigation in aid of legislation into the alleged maltreatment of children in RAC.
“Contrary to the purpose for which it was established, there are reports that allegedly, RAC was being run like a concentration camp and the children were either neglected or maltreated,” the two said in a statement Wednesday, February 25.
The two congressmen said other shelters for children should also be checked.
“There is need to look into the state of all other child shelters in the country, not only RAC, in order to ensure that no maltreatment is happening and that the children are being given their basic needs,” they said.
RAC, which has been operating for 30 years, serves as a temporary shelter for children until they can be referred to another institution that can better provide their needs.
Aside from Frederico’s case, there were also stories of hunger, physical and sexual abuse, shame, and discomfort associated to the government facility. (READ: A social worker responds to Manila’s care of street kids)
Senators had also earlier expressed their intent to look into the problems within RAC, including poor facilities, and budget and management issues as exposed by non-governmental organization (NGO) Bahay Tuluyan.
“We heard from other NGOs that [RAC] has closed, but [we have] no direct communication with DSWD or Manila City Hall,” Catherine Scerri, Bahay Tuluyan Deputy Director, told Rappler on Thursday, February 26. – Rappler.com