The Daily Mail is reporting that an investigation by the paper has revealed that Philipine authorities literally snatched homeless children off the streets in advance of the Pope’s visit to Manila this week in order to make life there look less wretched and economically stratified than it is. They were then placed in detention centers with adult criminals despite that being against the law.
In a blatant abuse of the country’s own child protection laws, the terrified children are locked up in filthy detention centres where they sleep on concrete floors and where many of them are beaten or abused by older inmates and adult prisoners and, in some cases, starved and chained to pillars.
That this occurs at all is terrible but it’s made worse by the Pope’s statement regarding the entire purpose of his trip there.
“The central nut of the message will be the poor, the poor who want to go forward, the poor who suffered from Typhoon Haiyan and are continuing to suffer the consequences,” he said while travelling to the Philippines from Sri Lanka.
Some children were more fortunate.
There is no indication that Pope Francis was aware that this was being done prior to his arrival however the imprisonment of children in the Philippines is a longstanding problem. Since 1995, Amnesty International notes that up to 50,000 children have been taken prisoner in the country and all were subject to “torture, rape and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment.” Most children are charged with crimes ranging from petty theft to simple vagrancy.