DSWD orders QC orphanage closure

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday issued a cease-and-desist order against an orphanage in Quezon City, citing that the facility puts the children in “imminent danger.”

In a press briefing on Tuesday, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said he personally visited Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI) on Saturday, together with registered social workers, and found out that the facility is overcrowded, dirty, unventilated, and without proper fire exits.

He said the privately-owned orphanage can only accommodate 80 children but they are currently housing 149 children.

Gatchalian added that the fire exits of the facilities were sealed by metal grills.

“That by itself is very alarming already," he said. "We are the parents of the nation. The department has the responsibility to safeguard those who are vulnerable."

The secretary also reported that the GHI is congesting over a hundred students to two classrooms that can only accommodate 20 children at most.

Without disclosing other details, the GHI on Monday thanked the DSWD and said they have come to a “compromise” with the agency — pertaining to an appeal that the DSWD allowed after they refused to accept the cease-and-desist order that was served on Monday.

DSWD Undersecretary Pinky Romualdez said the orphanage agreed to hand the 149 children over to the DSWD by the end of the day if they refuse to accept their appeal.

Rescued children will be transferred to their residential care facilities, Gatchalian said.

GHI is a duly registered and licensed social welfare and development agency of the DSWD with a license valid until August next year.

The secretary said if they comply with the issues raised within 20 days, the DSWD will lift the cease-and-desist order and give them back the children.


Meanwhile, Gatchalian also pointed out the struggle of social workers to get inside the facility to conduct a spot check.

He said the guard initially barred them from entering because there were no social workers, house parents, or person of authority inside.

But when they got in, Gatchalian said he was alarmed at the sight of a Caucasian man walking around the facility without supervision.

“Kami na regulator nila, bawal kami mag spot check pero [We as regulators are barred from conducting a spot check but] an unaccompanied Caucasian male adult just walked out,” he said.

“That by itself is a violation of our standard operating permits where all visitations – even for prospective adoptive parents – must be supervised,” the secretary added.

CNN Philippines has reached out to Gentle Hands Inc. for comment.