DSWD welcomes Senate probe into shutdown of QC orphanage
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday welcomed a Senate resolution seeking an inquiry into the closure of Quezon City orphanage Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI).
DSWD spokesperson Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said that the probe would offer a “forum to answer all issues” about its proceedings with GHI, including the cease-and-desist order it issued on May 23, the revocation of GHI’s fire safety permits following a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) inspection on May 24, and the “disruption” cases reported by the National Authority for Child Care (NACC).
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed the resolution seeking an investigation into the issue. Under Senate Resolution No. 643, Hontiveros-led Senate Committee on Women, children, family relations, and gender equality will investigate into the case of GHI.
“While the safety and adequacy of living standards are important concerns, it is also important to determine whether or not the correct processes were followed in the removal of the children from a child care facility… and whether or not these processes are informed by the best interest of the child doctrine,” Hontiveros said in her resolution.
Lopez said that Hontiveros’ investigation would be “helpful” in creating legislation to ensure child protection and that the welfare bureau is ready to cooperate with Hontiveros.
GHI has also challenged the halt order issued by the DSWD, contesting that violations alleged by the welfare authority are not enough to warrant the children’s removal from the orphanage.
The Commission on Human Rights has previously urged the DSWD and all other involved authorities to minimize the risk of further trauma for the GHI children residents following reports that armed officials were present during the kids’ transfer out of the orphanage.
The Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines has also sought transparency from the welfare department, asserting that “the best interest of the children must be the paramount consideration” in its dealings with the orphanage.