DSWD shuts down QC orphanage
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has shut down Gentle Hands Inc., a private orphanage in Quezon City, for several violations, including overcrowding and sanitation concerns.
At a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said that a cease-and-desist order was issued against the orphanage after he and several DSWD officials and social workers conducted a surprise visit on Saturday.
This was after a private individual complained that the orphanage was in violation of the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and also failed to comply with minimum standards set for residential facilities for children.
“The worst part of it all is [when] we saw the fire exits and they were sealed or had grills. That was not acceptable to us. That’s a walking fire trap,” Gatchalian said.
He added that aside from a security guard, the orphanage had only five housemaids and there were no house parents or social workers around at that time.
There were also 149 children staying at the orphanage, which was supposed to accommodate only 80.
“At any given time, there should always be a social worker or houseparent inside. Now you’re running an overpopulated facility without a social worker on hand,” Gatchalian said.
“It’s a recipe for disaster. What if an accident happens and the fire exits are sealed? Right there and there, it’s wrong because the ratio of adult supervision or professional supervision to the population is not proportional,” he said.
In addition, the DSWD team found out that the orphanage was using modules that were not approved by the Department of Education.
Gatchalian added that he was also surprised to see an “unsupervised” Caucasian man leaving the facility while the DSWD team was being held at the entrance.
“The reason why I’m not allowed to enter is because the houseparents aren’t there, the guardians aren’t there, everyone wasn’t there. But why is there an adult male Caucasian, just walking freely unsupervised?” he asked.
Gatchalian said the orphanage was given 20 days to explain, adding that the children under its custody had been transferred to DSWD facilities.