The Department of Social Welfare and Development has taken into custody a young boy who was photographed with a rope around his neck and being treated like a puppy by his own mother
The boy, estimated to be three to five years old, was rescued by social workers in Orani, Bataan, on Tuesday from his mother, who reportedly posted photographs of her child on Facebook.
The child will undergo a medical examination to check for any injuries and his general state of health, after which he will be brought to a reception and study center for children and the youth in the province, which is under the DSWD in Region 3.
Marilyn Tigas, head of the DSWD provincial office in Bataan, said both the child and the mother will undergo psychological assessment.
“The parent will undergo continuous counseling and we will assess the parenting capabilities of the mother,” the official said in a radio interview.
The rescue of the child came after social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman ordered the DSWD regional office in Central Luzon to track down the whereabouts of the child’s mother, who uploaded photographs of the abuse on Facebook.
The mother, Soliman said, is clearly liable for violating Republic Act 7610 or the Anti Child Abuse Law and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act.
“Even if it was made in jest, it was done in bad taste. The child does not know that it is just a joke,” the social welfare secretary said.
On Monday, photographs of a naked child on all fours and with a rope around the neck went viral on Facebook.
The boy was depicted crawling near a dish full of dog food. The photographs were allegedly posted by a certain Ayra dela Cruz Francisco, with the caption: “Bago ko nga palang alagang aso haha. Lakas ng tama ng anak ko sunod sunuran naman, dami kong tawa dito grabe (My new pet dog. My child’s stoned to death he follows everything I told him. Got so many laughs here).”
Francisco had already deactivated her account but several hate pages featuring the photographs had been created, with more than 30,000 shares as of press time.
Tigas said the woman, a stay-at-home mom, did not expect the photograph to go viral and generate such negative feedback among netizens.
“Her child and a cousin were playing in an area where there were many animals, as if they were mimicking animals. The mother photographed her son seemingly in jest,” the DSWD official said.
The mother initially resisted in letting social workers take her child, even promising to issue a public apology, but authorities wanted to rescue the child.
Tigas said the mother may be charged with child abuse for treating her child in such a manner and even uploading it on Facebook.
Tigas said the mother remained at home although social workers will conduct a psychological assessment on her.
The DSWD will also evaluate the mother to determine her capacity to take care of her child.
“No one has the right to treat a child like a toy. Whoever does this can be punished under the law,” Soliman stressed, adding that the one who took the photograph has no right to take care of a child.
Assistant secretary Javier Jimenez said barangay officials can also step in and seek an application for a protection order so that the child can be rescued from the situation.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said it is willing to help the DSWD in filing charges against the child’s mother.
CIDG spokesperson Chief Insp. Elizabeth Jasmin said they have handled 14 cases of child abuse this year, with the culprits usually members of the child’s family, neighbors and teachers.
“We are waiting for the coordination of the DSWD with us, we are ready to accept the affidavits of the complainants so we can file charges against the perpetrator,” the police official said.