QC orphanage probe must be dealt with sensitively – CHR

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday reminded authorities that the probe involving an orphanage in Quezon City must be dealt with in a manner that is conscious and sensitive to the needs of the children.

"It is crucial that we minimize the risk of further trauma, hurt, or harm to children when conducting investigative and intervention processes," the CHR said in a statement.

On Monday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) against Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI) due to its living conditions that allegedly put children in "imminent danger."

READ: DSWD orders QC orphanage closure 

The CHR said it dispatched a Quick Response Operation team to the GHI after the CDO was served.

Although acknowledging that quick action was needed, the agency said it was alarmed by some accounts circulating online claiming that DSWD and police personnel who came to retrieve the children on Monday were armed.

The CHR said the incident caused distress among the children.

"As the country's independent national human rights institution, we underscore the importance of putting primacy on the best interest of children," the CHR said.

"It is only through supportive and encouraging means can we gather accurate and credible information from children, which are necessary in attaining justice," it added.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, DSWD Undersecretary Pinky Romualdez said the GHI initially refused to accept the CDO that was served Monday night.

She said the orphanage asked permission to file an appeal and if the DSWD rejected it, they will agree to turn the children over.

The DSWD said the rescued children will be transferred to their residential care facilities namely Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang, Nayong Kabataan in Mandaluyong, and Reception and Study Center for Children in Quezon City.

The CHR said it will closely monitor the progress of the case and the situation of the children.