LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – “Street children as young as five are being caged in brutal detention centers alongside adult criminals in a cynical drive to smarten up the Philippines capital,” explained Daily Mail.
Disregarding their own Filipino child protection laws, the locked-up children are placed in filthy detention centers, where they sleep on the cold concrete floors, use buckets as toilets, get physically abused by older inmates, are nearly starved and in some cases, chained up to the pillars.
Adult inmates are kept in a pen directly next to the cell holding boys and girls; they freely pass back and forth through the compounds during certain times of the day and abuse the children.
The center is hidden away in the slums of Manila’s Paranaque district, and ironically named “House of Hope.”
“This is completely beneath human dignity and the rights of all the children here are being violated,” expressed Noble Peace Prize-nominated Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, to MailOnline. “They have no basic rights. There is no education. There is no entertainment. There is no proper human development. There is nowhere to eat and they sleep on a concrete floor. There is no proper judicial process.
“These kids are totally without protection. They have no legal representation. They are just put in jail and left to fend for themselves,” he continued.
According to Father Shay, there was never any chance of the Pope seeing the horrendous detention centers in Manila while touring the capital. “They are a shame on the nation. Officials here would be horrified at the prospect of the Pope seeing children treated in this way.”
This is not the first time children have been captured for hiding in the Philippines; Catherine Scerri, deputy director of street children charity Bahay Tuluyan, explained to MailOnline that this terrible act commonly happens right before a big public figure arrives in the capital.
“More children have been picked up in recent weeks and there has been a pattern of this happening before big international events in the past,” Scerri stated. “It happened before President Obama’s visit to the Philippines in April last year. When we tried to have them released we were told they couldn’t come out until after Obama had gone and the children were very much given the impression that they were rescued because of this visit.”
Officials claim the round-up was strictly to protect the Pope from beggars taking advantage of him.
Despite previous anger in the Philippines last year over a an 11-year-old child starved into a skeletal figure at another detention center, the Manila Reception and Action Centre (RAC), the practice of capturing non-criminal children and placing them in deplorable living conditions continues.
“There is no reason the shelters (centers) should be like this and what I find soul-destroying is the apathy of the people who work in and around places like RAC and allow this brutality,” said Scerri. “I can understand a lack of resources, but what I find so frustrating is the violence, torture and apathy and the fact that people are standing by and letting this happen. I think that is completely inexcusable.”