Sun Star (Philippines), Jan. 25, 2003
CEBU — Although they promised to take better care of their children and have them examined by a private doctor, the for taking the children from Sitio Nazareth to the Social Development Center (SDC) in Labangon and later to the Haven, a DSWD center for women and children.
They accused the City Government of meddling with their private lives and their religious practices in the guise of taking the children into custody.
“There are other children without food in the city streets, closer to the government and more visible to tourists. Why pick on us?” Salva Me members Mario, Geraldine Borbajo and Sgt. Gumersindo Medes, a bugler of the Central Command band, said in Cebuano.
They vowed to file charges against Carillo and DSWD 7 Director Teodulo Romo with the help of their lawyer Rex Fernandez.
In a separate interview, Carillo said he will answer any charges filed against him by the group.
Romo, who is in Iloilo City for a seminar, couldn’t be reached for comment.
When reporters visited their wooden house in the mountains of Nazareth, the Salva Me members were still grumbling about the action of the City Government and DSWD.
“We don’t trust them anymore. They told us that the doctors are just waiting right at the foot of the hill. So, we agreed to let the children go with them,” Borbajo, whom the group calls Mother of Mercy, lamented in Cebuano.
They also have reservations about Judge Abarintos’ orders to let social workers visit and monitor the activities of the children. They said they still have to confer with Fernandez about it.
“We have the right no to let them enter our place because this is a private property. Nganong magbuot man sila kon asa mi mamuyo. Si Tarzan gani nipuyo man sa bukid. Gidala sa siyudad pero nibalik ra sa bukid. Kami dunay pinuy-anan. Home sweet home,” Borbajo said. (They can’t dictate to us where to live. Even Tarzan went back to the mountains after he was brought to the city.)
“What welfare and protection of the children are they talking about? When I went to the Haven I found the children sleeping on big plastic bags, no mats,” an angry Medes said in Cebuano.
He added that the guard on duty at the Haven gave him the runaround when he asked for the children’s location.
Medes’ wife wept in front of reporters as she recalled how she felt that Monday night, when the team of social workers “deprived us of our children”.
“The children were weeping and crying,” Medes said.
The Medeses have three children, but the one-year-old and the infant was not taken by DSWD for medical check up as it was drizzling last Monday.
The City and DSWD, assisted by policemen, took the children into custody last week after a three-hour negotiation with Salva Me leader Alfredo Verano.
The children, accompanied by their parents, were taken to the SDC in Labangon where they were fed, interviewed and examined by a team of social workers and medical personnel from the City Health Department.
DSWD decided to retain the children for psychological examination and continued medication after they were found to be malnourished and lacking in personal hygiene.