DAVAO CITY – Advocate groups for women and children are not agreeable to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s order of arrest of parents of three street children.

The mayor made the order last Thursday, after seeing the minors sleeping under a parked car in Barrio Obrero at around 3 am.

The children aged 8, 7 and 6 years old were sent to a shelter home in the city but were later found out to have left the shelter house.

Marilyn Tambalangon and couple Alexander and Maricel Arbulado were charged for violating Republic Act 7610 which provides for children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

During his weekly program, “Gikan sa. Masa Para sa Masa”, Duterte said “there is no other solution” to get the children off the streets.

“The only solution nga bantayan pud nila ilang anak is to really arrest them (The only solution so parents will take care of their children is to arrest them),” Duterte said.

Duterte said he will agree to withdraw the cases against the parents only if they surrender the children to the government.

“We will take care of the children because apparently they are incapable really of rearing and watching over them,” Duterte said citing the children are not going to school.

Social ills

But the Children’s Rehabilitation Center said they do not see the intervention of the Mayor as the “ultimate solution” to the problem of the street children.

“What happened with the children and their parents is part of the social ills and the mayor’s actions will not solve it,” said Rius Valle spokesperson for CRC saying there is a bigger picture of poverty involved with the situation of the children’s families.

“The problem with parent’s negligence will not be solved if the root cause of poverty is not addressed,” Valle said.

“Dili gyud mao ang intervention (The intervention is not apt),” Valles said adding that the mayor could also try educating the parents through seminars on parenting.

“Unsay makab-ot anang pag-aresto sa ginikanan nga epekto man na sa kalisud (What good could arresting the parents bring when it is an effect of poverty),” he said.

Valles said what the mayor did was also comparable to what the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) did to the poor families in Metro Manila when Pope Francis visited the country.

The DSWD sent hundreds of poor families to a luxury resort in Batangas as part of its Conditional Cash Transfer program assessment activity.

Various organizations criticized the act as they alleged that the government agency tried to “hide” the poor families from the Pope.

“Yes it could be for the safekeeping of the children, but that’s just for now. It’s just a band-aid solution to the problem,” Valle said.

Valle said the main problem is lack of social service including lack of access to education for the children and their families.

CRC said they would also try to have a dialogue with the mayor to help in addressing the situation.

State violation

Meanwhile, Datu Bago awardee and Gabriela Davao Chairperson Emeritus Lyda Canson said the purpose of the mayor is to “rescue” the children “but the problem is the parents are also poor to take care of the children.”

“That is actually a violation of the Convention of the Right of Children. The right to proper care is both the responsibility of the parents and the State. And in our country we know that many parents are poor so it is the duty of the government to take them out of poverty or give the support systems to the parents,” Canson said.

Mayor Duterte is set to discuss the issue on the upcoming command conference on Monday with police authorities and the barangay captains. Duterte said those minors who will be caught in the streets, even during daytime, will be arrested for their protection.

Duterte said his decision to arrest the parents was based on the fact that he wants “to teach them a lesson.” (davaotoday.com)

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