MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday reunited a 20-month-old boy with his mother at the DSWD Reception and Study Center for Children in Quezon City.
DSWD spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said it took four months to retrieve “Baby Marzan” from Gentle Hands Incorporated (GHI), whom the mother, Melanie Marzan, sought help from to take care of her child last Jan. 31 due to her pregnancy for her third child.
Lopez said the single mom encountered problems in retrieving her child from the orphanage despite fulfilling the necessary requirements, a reason why she turned to the DSWD for help.
Melanie narrated that on Feb. 2, she went to GHI to visit her son but she was only allowed to see him for 10 minutes.
After giving birth to her third child, she requested to be reunited with Baby Marzan but GHI allegedly informed her that it was not possible because the client had not yet stayed with the childcare facility for three months.
Through its National Capital Region-Field Office (NCR-FO), the DSWD sought out Marzan, provided her with counselling, and her concern on her son was communicated to GHI.
Lopez said there was no response from Graff, and a subsequent March 28 letter sent by DSWD to the GHI’s executive director seeking clarification on the matter was ignored as well.
“Ms. Marzan’s plea fell on deaf ears. Gentle Hands, through its executive director Ms. Charity Graff, continue to illegally detain Baby Marzan for no justifiable and legal reason,” Lopez said.
The DSWD NCR-FO then issued a Parental Capability Assessment Report (PCAR) which facilitated the release of the child to his mother.
Marzan is now seeking legal advice following the trauma she suffered in getting back her son.
According to Lopez, the actuations of Graff, a Canadian citizen, who has been issued a working visa by the Bureau of Immigration, runs counter to Filipino values which place importance on families, with young children not to be separated from their mothers and fathers.
“To blatantly deny Baby Marzan from the loving care of his mother, Melanie, contravenes the essence of a Filipino family and runs counter to the policies and principles, which the DSWD protects and promotes,” said Lopez as he maintained that Philippine laws are very clear that it is in the best interest of the child to be with his mother, unless declared otherwise by a court of law.
“Since there is no court order declaring Ms. Marzan unfit to be a parent, then Gentle Hands has no right to refuse her request for the return of her son,” he said.
Lopez said the DSWD is currently looking into two more similar cases involving children under the temporary custody of GHI. (PNA)