Justice must be served, said the grandfather of the 11-year-old girl who died after she was picked up and detained by Fuente police along with another child beggar on Easter dawn in Cebu City.
Renato Mirabiles, 52, a former barangay tanod of Calamba, said he would continue to press for answers about why his grand daughter, Charity, allegedly suffered at the hands of police.
“Madawat ra to namo kung namatay siya tungod sa resulta sa medical exam sa hospital pero nakakita man gud bun-og sa iyang lawas (We can accept her death if she had died based on medical results of the hospital but we saw the the bruises all over her body,” said Renato told Cebu Daily News outside his home in Calamba.
He said he saw wide, dark patches of bruises in the little girl’s face, back, inner arm and inner leg when he found her body in the hospital morgue.
At his request, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will have the body autopsied next week. The victim was buried last week but the NBI is set to exhume the remains.
Chief Inspector Wildemar Tiu, head of the Fuente police station, has been called to explain why and how street children were rounded up in the early hours of April 5, Easter Sunday.
He didn’t attend a case conference held last Thursday about the child beggar’s death but sent a representative.
The inquiry was called by Dr. Ester Concha, chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), who told CDN the alleged abuse was witnessed by Chastity’s companion, who may be able to identify the policemen who manhandled them.
Concha said the Fuente police and Chief Inspector Tiu have figured in several complaints before about maltreatment of street kids, who are rounded by under the police “Libod-Suroy”program.
She said the police station did not coordinate with the DSWS when they apprehended minors.
In a phone interview on Friday, Chief Inspector Tiu waved off the complaint.
He told CDN it was a product of “imagination” although he acknowledged that child beggars were being rounded up in his area.
Tiu said he had no reason to physically abuse a street child because their presence on the street begging “was the fault of the mother”, who accompanied her.
According to her step-father, Mario Buyo, Chastity collapsed on the street and died on Monday, April 6, hours after her release from police custody.
She was taken to the Cebu City Medical Center where hospital staff told the family she likely succumbed to “dengue or heat stroke” but the family doesn’t believe this.
Chastity and her mother had a regular spot outside the 7-11 convenience store near Fuente Osmena begging from passersby.
The account of another child beggar, now under protection of social workers, described how Chastity was “kicked in the face” while sleeping on the street and forced into a police vehicle that took them to the Fuente police station.
Chastity’s grandfather said he was ready to file a complaint if the NBI autopsy provides evidence.
“Wala miy kahadlok kay kahibaw man mi nga naa mis sakto (We are not afraid because I know we are on the right side),” he added.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella on Firday instructed Concha of DSWS to submit a written report on the incident, to secure the child witness and provide legal counsel for the family in order to prepare sworn statements.
Chastity’s house in in sitio Lower Kawayan, barangay Sambag 2, is a patchwork of wood in a slum near the river.
Her mother was out. Her live-in-partner, a former trisikad driver, said the mother and daughter resorted to begging after his bicycle was confiscated by traffic enforcers for a violation and they were left with no source of livelihood.
Chastity was the third in four children. Her siblings have different fathers.
She was supposed to enroll in grade four at Guadlaupe Elementary School in June.
Buyo said he too, saw the bruises on Chastity’s face and body.
But it was only after her death, during the vigil wake, that a child companion of Chastity mentioned what had happened.
“Ingon pa sa bata nga kuyog niya ato nga pagdakop, gipatiran daw ni si Chastity og kaduha dool sa may 7/11 diin sila mangayo unya gi-itsa sa mobil (The girl who was with her during the round up said Chastity was kicked twice near the 7/11 store where they begged for alms and was thrown into the patrol car),” said Renato.
He said the family held the vigil wake of Chastity in another part of barangay Calamba after some policemen dropped by asking about them.
The step-father said whoever harmed the little girl was cruel “salbahis” and that he would file a case if the NBI autopsy provides evidence.
“Dili ta nila ing-anaon ang mga bata kay mga bata mana. Mas mudawat pako kung gikasohan ang ilang mga ginikanan. Di ba dapat ingon ana mana,” said Renato.