MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) called for the release of the minors arrested during a violent protest in Pasig City last week.
Two of the 10 children – aged 12 and 13 – have already been released from Bahay Aruga. The DSWD, together with the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), is coordinating with the local government unit (LGU) to release the 8 other minors.
The minors were taken with 31 adults on August 31 when the protest led by urban poor group Kadamay escalated into a riot with police. Kadamay members and residents were protesting the looming demolition of their houses at the Manggahan Floodway.
"The LGU has facilitated on Monday the release of the two children below 15 years old. But the release of the remaining 8 who are above 15 years old will depend on the decision of the City Prosecutor's Office," Social Welfare Undersecretary Hope Hervilla said. Hervilla supervises the JJWC, an attached agency of the DSWD.
The DSWD stressed that the minors should be released because there is no court order to detain them.
Social workers from the JJWC and the DSWD earlier went to Bahay Aruga to validate reports that the children were being beaten up there. But the youth center blocked government officials, including Social Welfare Undersecretary Malou Turalde, when they tried to inspect the facility on September 3 and 4.
JJWC Executive Director Tricia Oco earlier said that the children told the social workers they were not being hurt inside the facility.
Hervilla said the issue will be taken up by the DSWD's executive committee to study what further actions they may take.
"We will also ask for an official written report from our executive director from JJWC, then we will study what we can do further. But definitely, we will speak with the LGU and police for us to see the gaps in terms of laws and protocols," said Hervilla in Filipino.
They will also ask the municipal social worker for a report, to be consolidated with the findings of the JJWC. – Rappler.com