QC orphanage exec faces kidnapping complaint

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) – The executive director of Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI) is facing a kidnapping complaint after the orphanage supposedly failed to return three minor children to their mother.

The 31-year-old parent and complainant in the case claimed that Charity Heppner Graff refused to return her three children despite receiving a copy of the Parenting Capability Assessment Report (PCAR), which was issued by the Pasig City social welfare office favorable to the mother.

“Dahil sa pagtanggi ng mga respondent na maibalik ang aking tatlong anak, siya ay dapat makulong sa salang kidnapping and failure to return minors (3 counts) dahilan sa hindi pag sauli sa aking kustodiya ng aking mga anak,” Roxas’ affidavit read.

[Translation: Because of the Respondents' refusal to return my three children, she should be imprisoned for the crime of kidnapping and failure to return minors (3 counts) for not returning my children to my custody.]

Lawyers from the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking assisted Roxas in filing her complaint affidavit before the Quezon City prosecutor's office on Friday afternoon.

What went down

In 2019, Roxas filed an anti-child abuse case against her mother and siblings for hurting her children. She then sought the assistance of Bahay Kalinga, which shelters homeless people.

Bahay Kalinga referred Roxas to GHI, which took custody of the children in the third week of November 2019.

In her affidavit, Roxas said the orphanage barred her from seeing her children until December 2021.

“Sa tuwing binibisita ang aking mga anak sa GHI, ako ay pinag-aantay ng dalawa o hanggang tatlong oras. Iba’t ibang palusot ang binibigay ni Charity at ng kaniyang mga social workers upang ako ay mag hintay, ngunit hindi naman pinapakita ang aking mga anak,” Roxas said.

[Translation: Every time I visit my children in GHI, I am kept waiting for two to three hours. Charity and her social workers are giving me different excuses to make me wait, but they’re not letting me see my children.]

In November 2020, Roxas said tried to visit her children again – this time with a copy of the order of dismissal regarding the case she filed. Yet she still failed to get her children back.

A month after, Roxas said Graff talked to her and required her to submit a PCAR. After the mother complied in August 2021, Graff still refused to return the children.

“Habang kami ay nasa waiting area sa labas ng orphanage, malapit sa may guard house, lumabas si Ginang Charity, dinuro duro ako at sinabi ‘Hindi ko ibibigay anak mo sa iyo ang mga anak mo kahit magkakortehan tayo,’” Roxas said.

[Translation: While we were in the waiting area outside the orphanage, near the guard house, Mrs. Charity came out, pointed at me and said ‘I will not give your children to you even if we reach the court.’]

She said Graff forced her to sign a Deed of Voluntary Commitment, signifying that Roxas is voluntarily surrendering her right as a mother to her three children.

On May 22, the Department of Social Welfare and Development issued a cease-and-desist order on GHI for putting the children in “imminent danger.”

READ: DSWD orders QC orphanage closure

CNN Philippines sought comment from GHI.