Missing 5-year-old boy rescued from teen slave masterBy Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Manila policemen have rescued a 5-year-old boy, missing for a month, from the clutches of a teenager who allegedly took the child and forced him to beg for a living near a school in Tondo.
Officers from the Manila Police District’s Jose Abad Santos station found the boy around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, wearing a wig and dressed in a girl’s clothes, begging in front of the F. Calderon Elementary School on Hermosa Street.
Superintendent Roderick Mariano, the station commander, told the Inquirer that his men later caught up with 18-year-old Gerald Alejo, of Baliuag, Bulacan, whom the boy identified as the man who took him and two playmates from Arlegui Street in Quiapo last month.
“The victim was one of three boys whom Alejo allegedly took with him for a ride on a passenger jeepney to R. Papa Street in the boundary of Caloocan City and Manila,” Mariano said, adding that for some reason, after reaching R. Papa Street, the 18-year-old took them back to the Sta. Cruz district in another jeepney.
“The two boys (aged 5 and 7) were able to return to their mothers who are vendors in Quiapo but their five-year-old playmate was left behind,” Mariano said.
The missing boy’s mother started searching for her son in Sta. Cruz but could not find him.
“She did not stop looking for a month and when she went back to R. Papa and coordinated with barangay (village) and police officials in the area, she found her son in drag outside the school,” Mariano told the Inquirer.
He described the boy as dressed in a sleeveless shirt and a skirt and sporting a shoulder-length brown wig. The station commander explained that Alejo apparently wanted the child to appear as a girl so he could get more alms.
Police then caught Alejo nearby, apparently monitoring the boy’s begging, and arrested him after the victim identified him as the man who took him.
“When we asked the suspect why he had taken the boy, he said he needed to earn a living because he himself had also run away from home,” Mariano told the Inquirer, adding that Alejo told him he had been feeding the boy well from the proceeds of his begging.
Alejo is now detained at the MPD Jose Abad Santos station holding cell pending the filing of a charge of violation of Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, against him before the City Prosecutor’s Office.