MANILA, Philippines – The controversial Reception and Action Center (RAC) in Manila is already temporarily closed, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) confirmed with Rappler on Thursday, February 26.
“To date, there are no more children at RAC,” DSWD-NCR Director Alicia Bonoan told Rappler in a text message.
The government-run facility was heavily criticized when photos and the story of the shockingly emaciated Frederico were first published October 2014.
DSWD decided to temporarily close down the RAC in January after its own investigation. Since then, the department had started transferring the children-residents to other facilities.
“After DSWD-NCR and RAC staff did an inventory of the children at the center, they were transferred to appropriate DSWD residential facilities,” Bonoan explained.
Children who violated the ordinance on curfew already returned to their families, but they were endorsed to social workers for after-care services.
It was non-governmental organization Bahay Tuluyan which first exposed the “abysmal” conditions inside RAC, a temporary shelter for children.
The center, which has been operating for 30 years, has capacity for only 50 clients. RAC acting chief Gloria Antonio admitted, however, that they sometimes have as many as 250 clients.
Bahay Tuluyan exposed RAC’s poor facilities, and budget and management issues. There were also stories of hunger, physical and sexual abuse, shame, and discomfort associated with the government facility. (READ: A social worker responds to Manila’s care of street kids)
Frederico, who was photographed lying naked on the floor inside RAC, is now doing well in another institution and has gained weight.
Bonoan said Manila’s city social welfare and development officer is currently providing “technical assistance” to RAC for the center to meet the standards of residential facilities.
“Once complied with, it shall resume its operation,” she added.