Officials deny ‘caging’ street children ahead of Pope Francis visit
MANILA, Philippines–Government officials on Thursday refuted reports that street children were being rounded up and “caged” in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis.
“These reports are not true. In fact, some of the street children will be part of the ceremonies of the pope,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing at the Philippine National Police’s command center at Aloha Hotel in Manila.
Lacierda said this was based on a check with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas echoed Lacierda’s statement but nevertheless urged the public to immediately report such incidents.
“Certainly, the police has nothing to do with this but nevertheless, we will check,” Roxas said.
“There are so many things the authorities are looking at–intelligence operations, assessments, and others–so certainly, the rumored detention is not part of the government’s focus,” he added.
Pope Francis will hold his last Mass in the Philippines at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday.
In a report by London-based Mailonline, hundreds of boys and girls were supposedly hauled by the police and caged in “brutal detention centers” with criminals.
Government workers purportedly brought some children to a center in Parañaque City named “House of Hope” with an adjacent cell where adult inmates are detained.
Roxas said putting children in detention centers is a violation of the law.
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