Special report: Where even adults are given shelter (Last of 2 parts)

THE Davao City Social Services and Development Office-Quick Response Team for Children's Concern (CSSDO-QRTCC) was established as its name defines, to be a quick response team for children's concern. It rescues abused, abandoned, and lost children, and has a facility for their temporary shelter.

CSSDO-QRTCC center head Juenalyn Pablo said it is an advantage that Davao City already has mechanism and handling cases and it also has existing facilities for children.

Pablo said the city has separate facilities that serve as temporary shelter for the abandoned and sexually abused for girls which is Balay Dangupan, and also for abandoned boys PDIC.

The city also has Bahay Pag-asa, a temporary shelter for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) whose cases have been filed in court and are waiting for the disposition of their cases, and Lingap Center for Mentally-Challenged Children, a residential facility for neglected, abandoned and abused mentally-challenged male children and other children needing special protection.

But like many facilities that the City Government run, its personnel do more than just their mandate.

In this case, the CSSDO-QRTCC attends even to adults, especially those who, like the children they are mandated to help, need quick response -- senior citizens who need temporary shelter regardless of whether they are residents of Davao City or not.

Just recently, the CSSDO-CRTCC assisted two families who had been traveling for the past 20 months from Surigao City to Davao City aboard their two separate cycle trisikads (pedal-powered tricycles). One family aboard one trisikad has two children.

"The infant and the toddler were already turned over to the DSWD; the mother is already at a mental hospital because of mental disorder. The father is currently staying here, complying requirements for the adoption of the children. They are really not capable because based on our assessment they cannot really take care of the child," she said.

Pablo said the children do not have birth certificates, no vaccines, did not undergo new born screening, and their parents lacked proper hygiene practices that placed their children's health in peril. Both children were born on the trisikad and have been traveling with their parents.

It was when the two families arrived in Davao City when CSSDO-QRTCC was alerted about them by a concerned citizen. A team went out to rescue them and give them temporary shelter last January 25-26.

Pablo said the children were able to drink some milk. She said they were being taken care of since they lacked proper nutrition.

"Their feeding bottles are dirty, and their environment is not clean since they are always by the chickens and the dogs brought by their neighbor in a separate the trisikad all the way to Davao from Surigao, passing Bukidnon, Pagadian," she said.

In an interview with Nanay Diding, the owner of the chickens and the dog, she said they have been traveling together with their neighbor Dodong to Davao City after their houses in Surigao City were demolished. Nanay Diding traveled with her two granddaughters, a six-year-old and a five-year-old.

Dodong, in an interview with SunStar, also said they were determined to come to the city "to process some documents owned by his father." His children, he said, were born on the same day one year apart -- December 7, 2016 and 2017.

They were assisted well, Nanay Diding said, and they were given food. She planned on going to her son in Iligan City after their stop here, on their trisikad with her chickens and a dog.

Pablo said the two families are only a few of the families they cater to. She said despite their center, which was named to cater only children, they are actually catering all-age levels for as long as the person is not sick and dying, and does not have violent tendencies.

"Davao City does not only cater to those who are from Davao City unlike some municipalities, cities who only focus only their constituents. Here, we also entertain, and access those who need help," she said.

Meanwhile, Pablo said that years of operation of the QRTCC and Kean Gabriel Hotline has seemed to have borne its fruit, as they noted also success stories from the end of those they have helped.

"Those facilities where we refer the children give us updates. We learned that a child referred by QRTCC Children's Village is now going to Holy Cross. The child's rescue was sensational because he and her siblings were already eating earthworms and cockroaches to survive after they were locked up by their father in a room," she said.

They received updates from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) about the children who were successfully adopted or the malnourished kids who have become healthier.

She said some of the children they have rescued have changed a lot in features.

Some victims of physical abuse who have reconciled with their families and are being monitored by social workers assigned in the areas where they live.

She said the first child rescued through the Kean Gabriel Hotline is now studying as a Grade 4 student at an elementary school downtown.

The child will remain at the center until the case against the mother is resolved, she said.

From January to November 2017, the Kean Gabriel Hotline recorded 456 cases of child abuse, of which 219 were physical abuse, 38 were sexual abuse, 51 were of neglect, 2 were child labor cases, four were drug violence related, 23 for child custody, and 119 for other cases.

The highest number of cases involved children aged 6-12 with 180 cases followed by 13-18 with 145 cases. Third highest are those aged 0 to 5 with 106, while cases involving those above 18 years old numbered 25.

Out of these cases, 376 were given due attention through rescue, referred to institution, and counseling (advice giving).

A chunk of the CSSDO-QRTCC services given is advice giving with 152, followed by rescue with 131, and referral to institutions with 93.