DSWD: We are faithful to our mandate of protecting vulnerable children | Inquirer Opinion

DSWD: We are faithful to our mandate of protecting vulnerable children

/ 04:05 AM May 30, 2023

We write to correct several inaccuracies as well as make clarifications to your editorial entitled “A humane act for orphans” (5/27/23).

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) did not act “precipitously and harshly” when it issued a cease-and-desist order last May 22 against the Quezon City childcare facility Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI), a duly registered and licensed social welfare and development agency.

Our records will show that as early as Aug. 9, 2022, DSWD’s standards bureau director Justin Caesar Anthony Batocabe wrote a four-page letter addressed to Charity Graff, executive director of GHI, reiterating the corrective measures which GHI should undertake in both its Jason’s Home in Project 4, Quezon City, and Home of Grace in Baliuag, Bulacan.

This was followed by another letter from Batocabe dated Jan. 16, 2023, addressed to then DSWD-National Capital Region director Monina Josefina Romualdez and director Jonathan Dirain of DSWD field office III-Central Luzon reiterating the “continued failure by the Gentle Hands” to address the accreditation indicators earlier noted in both of GHI’s facilities.


On March 4, 2023, a nine-page letter from Romualdez was sent to Graff detailing the inspection conducted by DSWD social workers wherein they confirmed that some of the earlier deficiencies were already corrected, while a number of the earlier noted violations needed further corrections.

The March 4, 2023 letter remained unanswered by the GHI, with Graff telling our social workers that she did not receive it in GHI’s email.

The last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was the report submitted by Undersecretary Janella Estrada, executive director of the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), regarding three cases of Filipino children who were adopted through GHI and showed signs of disruptive behavior.

According to the NACC, the disruption cases of children from GHI were due to “poor preparation of the children—mentally, physically, and emotionally.”


On the issue of overcrowding, the GHI’s attention has been called a number of times but was slow to act on the matter. What makes the overcrowding worse is the lack of fire exits which is a formula for disaster waiting to happen. This prompted the DSWD to immediately transfer the children from GHI’s Quezon City orphanage to three government childcare facilities where they will be safer and will be given extra loving care by our social workers and resident child psychologists.

In order for these children to find happy homes and suitable foster parents, the DSWD must be able to provide them with temporary shelter and support in order to prepare them for eventual adoption. The DSWD’s mandate is to regulate these shelters for children so that they are properly assessed and given rehabilitative care prior to finding them loving and caring foster homes.


GHI’s children-residents are now with Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Nayon ng Kabataan in Mandaluyong City; and the Reception and Study Center for Children in Quezon City.

The DSWD has also written the Commission on Human Rights and the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines assuring them that the rights of the children are being strictly observed and that they are receiving the best care possible in the three DSWD-operated child care facilities.

On the issue of children in street situations, the DSWD has a continuous program dubbed “Pag-Abot,” which reaches out to children and families living along sidewalks and islands of major thoroughfares. The main challenge here is how to convince them to get off the streets and allow themselves to be processed by DSWD social workers. Those who agree to be placed under DSWD custody are given shelter, food, and other assistance, including their return to their provinces with provision of livelihood under the Balik Probinsya program.

We hope we have cleared the issues raised in your editorial. Rest assured that the DSWD is faithful to its mandate that calls for the protection and promotion of the interests of the vulnerable, especially children who cannot protect themselves.

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Romel M. Lopez
Assistant Secretary/Spokesperson
Department of Social Welfare and Development

TAGS: child protection, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Gentle Hands Inc., Letters to the Editor, orphanage

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