Report ‘neglected’ street kids amid pandemic, DSWD urges public

 The government has maintained that the public shall strictly practice the health protocols mandated by the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) even as the community eases back into normal operations.

 These include keeping a safe distance from one another in public spaces, transportation services, and other crowded areas. Wearing of face masks and shields are also strictly imposed. Most were observant of these orders but there are a few that are not. 

There are photos and videos online that raises concern on street children getting back to old habits of begging in the streets amid the public health crisis. In these online postings, some children are seen without face masks. 

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) chief of media affairs Dir. Irene Dumlao urges the public to report street children sightings to the Crisis Intervention Unit of the DSWD in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

“The crisis intervention unit can be reached through their hotline number: 8735 5413. So we could reach out to these children and conduct case management,” she told the Philippine News Agency on Friday.

In July 2019, legislator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa proposed the Senate Bill No. 232, or An Act Establishing A Crisis Center For Street Children In Every Region Of The Philippines, Appropriating Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes.

Dela Rosa said the act would serve to build “a protective environment for street children”.

“The children, as stated in the Declaration of the Rights of Child, practically need special safeguards, as well as legal protection before and after birth. This is because of their physical and mental immaturity,” the senator said in a statement when he filed the bill.

Dumlao said other than the unit, reports will also be referred to the local social welfare and development offices (LSWDOs). 

The LSWDO personnel will trace their families and convince them to look over their children, she said.

Dumlao said local government units (LGUs) also have to deputize the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) to handle children in street situations (CISS) cases.

"The LCPC will coordinate with appropriate groups for the necessary intervention and to avoid (abandoned) children going back to the streets again,” she said, adding that children who are assessed as abandoned and without parents or guardians to look after them will be brought to centers for abandoned children. 

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has earlier announced the CISS must have access to free basic health care services, including sexual and reproductive health services. 

At the same time, they should be given education and formation programs while staying at the shelter. Dumlao said these are already being implemented. (PNA)