TWO children, aged two and four years old, were rescued by the Lapu-Lapu City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) in Barangay Agus on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 after the children were reported to be living by themselves in a tree house.
In a social media post, the CSWDO said the rescue was prompted by a report from a concerned citizen who claimed that the children’s mother had gone to Manila to work as a maid, while their father would frequently leave the house and not return for extended periods.
The concerned citizen reported that the children often had no food to eat, and the food donations from neighbors were not enough to sustain them.
The area where the children lived also contained sharp materials such as steel sheets and chopped wood, and there were wild animals such as snakes, which posed much danger to the children’s safety.
As the children were left unattended and unsupervised, there was a risk of them falling from the tree house, the CSWDO said.
The CSWDO coordinated with Barangay Agus officials and the police particularly the violence against women and children Lapu-Lapu City desk, when they launched the rescue operation. The children have been temporarily relocated to a homecare facility.
In a DYHP interview, the father of the two children said he often had to leave his kids to find ways to support them. He currently works, part-time, in a cafe.
The father also said he has not heard from his wife since she left for Manila. He could not confirm her family’s account that she was now living with another man in Manila.
During the interview, the father asked for help to return to his hometown, Oslob, southern Cebu, so that he can go back to his job as a tourist guide in Barangay Tan-awan.
He said he was among those greatly affected by the decline of tourism activities during the Covid-19 pandemic which prompted his family to move to Lapu-Lapu City so that he can find work.
The tree house, owned by a barangay resident, was where he and his children would often sleep because they had no permanent residence in the city, he explained.
He said he could not leave his children with relatives in Oslob because his relatives were still young and in school.
The man reportedly attempted to visit his children at the homecare facility; but CSWDO personnel did not allow him to see them at the time pending some requirements that still needed to be processed. / with PR