Care for streetkids, public urged
Church leaders in Cebu called on the people to reach out and care for street children instead of maltreating them in the wake of the death of 11-year-old street child Chastity Mirables a day after Easter Sunday.
“We are a humane nation; a Christian people. We need to reach out to those in the periphery. I hope more respect will be given to the poor,” Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma told reporters.
Palma said he earlier requested the priests to care of the poor and make available the sacraments of the Church for free.
“We’re monitoring what the Church has done for the poor so that it won’t just be mere lip service in the future. There have been efforts by the Church although many are not publicized,” he said.
Chastity’s mother Noemi and grandfather Renato asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate her death.
Chastity died on the street on Monday, 15 hours after she was released from police custody.
The grandfather had suspected Chastity’s father to be responsible for her death but was later convinced that the mauling she sustained from policemen of the Fuente precinct during a roundup of street children on Easter Sunday, April 5, ultimately caused her death.
Fr. Carmelo Diola, who has been tending and catechizing streetkids called on authorities to resolve the case and penalize the perpetrators.
“Chastity’s death should not just become a statistic. We want authorities to investigate. No whitewashing (or cover up) please. I hope no more streetkid will die in like manner,” said Diola in a separate interview.
But Diola, executive director of the Dilaab Foundation Inc,, added people should not assume the police are guilty without supporting evidence.
“Let’s be fair. We could not judge until it will be established that this particular person really had a hand in Chastity’s death,” he said.
Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, head of the Fuente precinct, is under investigation for the incident. Diola said Chastity’s companion, a witness to the alleged mauling incident, should be heard.
“People are so afraid of people in authority. For this child to say that, I think her statement should be given credence. She actually has nothing to gain (if she speaks ill of the policeman),” he said.
Diola worked with Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, then Police Regional Office (PRO-7) chief, to initiate 100 street children in Cebu City into the sacrament of Holy Communion.
He said they will hold a similar activity for next year’s International Eucharistic Congress.
Augustinian priest, Fr. Harold Rentoria, executive director of the 450th Kaplag celebration, said love for children is the message of the Sto. Niño.
Meanwhile, support for Tiu came from store managers and even a vendor.
A branch manager of a drugstore along Gen. Maxilom Avenue said the number of snatching and holdup cases involving minors went down under his watch.
“There were no tourists who fell victims and there are fewer crimes,” said the branch manager who requested anonymity.
Michael Seno, supervisor of a fast-food outlet along Osmeña Boulevard and 40-year-old street vendor Bayani Libaton expressed the same sentiment. Tiu was designated Fuente police precinct chief in May last year.
P03 Lydio Libres Jr.,said their records showed that crimes committed by minors went down from 32 crimes in January to March last year to 16 for the same period this year./with Xavier University Intern Ana Liza Jane E. Banaynal
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