Homeless children in Manila are being rounded up by Philippines’ police in an attempt to clean the city up for the Pope’s visit, Daily Mail reports.
Children as young as 5 are being arrested and detained in subhuman living conditions. They are often held for months before being let go onto the streets. Unfortunately, the government has not provided any support for these children, and they often end up back in the temporary prisons.
Children are locked up alongside convicted criminals, and guards often are apathetic or look the other way while children are physically and sexually abused by inmates. The captured children sleep on and eat off of concrete floors, often using buckets as toilets. In some instances, children were chained to poles in these cellars.
Father Shay Cullen, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize, runs a missionary about 100 miles from Manila and recently traveled through these temporary prisons to help children and adopt some to the missionary. One boy, Mak-Mak, had scabies and had been abused by adult inmates during his times in the prison. He was apparently abandoned by his parents and was picked up on the street by Manila police while cleaning up for the Pope. Cullen brought Mak-Mak to his missionary to rehabilitate him.
An inmate in a temporary cell said: “Lots of children have been brought here lately. We're told they're being picked up from under the road bridges where the Pope will travel.”
This practice is not new, though, as Manila first started to arrest children without cause during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in 1996, according to Catherine Scerri, deputy director of Bahay Tuluyan, a charity that helps street children. The country and specifically Manila have been blamed for child abuse of this kind in the past but have not been punished for it.
Rosalinda Orobia of the Social Welfare Department said, “There is no question that children should be kept off the streets, but a campaign to do so just for the duration of a dignitary's visit helps nobody except the officials who want to put on a show and pretend all is well in our cities."
Thousands of the arrested children will be let go after the Pope’s stay. However, most will be arrested again once a new internationally televised event comes to Manila.
One boy has been arrested 59 times yet still lives on the streets on Manila.
The citizens of Manila are outraged when they find out about these injustices, but many of them have been very well hidden by the city government.
Father Cullen hopes that the Pope speaks out about child abuse during his visit to Manila and that doing so will help put an end to the injustice towards children.
Sources: Daily Mail / Photo Source: Daily Mail