Soliman: Daily Mail photos of caged street kids ‘taken in the past’
MANILA, Philippines—Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman denied caging children loitering and begging in Manila streets ahead of the Pope Francis’ visit to the country.
Following the denials of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Thursday, Soliman dismissed claims of British tabloid Daily Mail Online that street children have been rounded up to clean up Manila roads.
“We are not hiding the children. In fact, more than 400 street children will be singing during the send-off for Pope Francis on Monday. They have been practicing since December. The Pope will see and interact with them,” Soliman said.
Of the 400, some are beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, abandoned children and those undergoing rehabilitation in DSWD centers.
Soliman also clarified that the photos Daily Mail Online used “were taken in the past.” Among the pictures shown were those of Frederico, the boy detained in an Ermita children’s center alleged to have “concentration camp-like conditions.”
Reports on Frederico first came out in November 2014. The Department of Social Welfare and Development had recommended the closure of the Reception and Action Center.
“Federico has already gained weight and is being cared for by an NGO with DSWD. We have found his mother and we are currently doing case work management with the mother,” Soliman explained.
Meanwhile in a recent report, the Daily Mail reported that hundreds of street children have been detained in centers in Parañaque and Pasay City in preparation for the papal visit.
To address this, Soliman ordered an investigation into the allegations on children centers.
“We do not tolerate this practice. We put child abusers in jail,” Soliman said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.