Warning: This article contains disturbing images
The Reception and Action Centre (RAC) in Manila is a holding facility for vulnerable children and young people collected from the Street of Manila. It is a regular part of Kanlungan’s work to intercede for children when they have been rounded up from their communities on the streets and held at the RAC.
Streetlight volunteers have seen firsthand the RAC facility and, in our experience, this article is fair and the RAC is a place that no child should ever experience.
‘Change’ are organising an on-line petition calling on the authorities in Manila to reform or close the RAC.
Please click here to sign the change.org petition.
Petitioning Mayor Joseph Estrada - Upgrade or Close RAC
This photo was taken inside Reception and Action Center, Manila (RAC) on 12 October 2014. It shows a child who is clearly severely malnourished and very unwell lying naked on a cement floor. On the date this photo was taken this child had been under the ‘protective custody’ of the Philippine government, specifically the Manila City government, for seven months. He had received no medical treatment. Upon release to Bahay Tuluyan he had a black eye and bruising and initial medical reports indicated he had ‘multiple injuries secondary to mauling’.
The conditions inside RAC are abysmal. Children are detained in this center without charge yet are treated worse than criminals. They are denied the most basic rights – adequate food, clean water, bedding and even clothing. Moreover not only are children denied contact with their families but their families are often not even notified that they are being held inside RAC.
Children inside RAC are brought there by government officials, police or barangay tanod, often after having been beaten or mistreated. Most of the time the children do not even know why they are being taken to RAC, with workers citing various reasons for admission; ‘rescue’, ‘curfew’ or commission of an offence. Accordingly, children accused of committing offences are detained in the same quarters as those who have supposedly been ‘rescued’ for protective purposes. The beating and abuse continues inside RAC with children being both physically and sexually abused by both staff and fellow chidlren.
Bahay Tuluyan, along with its many partners, has been advocating for better conditions in RAC since 2008 (refer especially to Sagip or Huli: Rescue of Street Children in Caloocan, Manila, Pasay and Quezon Cities, 2009) and has involved the Manila City government, DSWD and CHR in various discussions about the above mentioned concerns. Despit this there has been no change in the conditions in RAC during that time.
This horrific treatment of children can not continue. Adequate policies and laws exist in the Philippines to regulate the running of child care institutions to appropriate standards yet this insitution, run by government, falls far below those standards.
We request you to IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND the operations of RAC until it meets DSWD standards of accreditation and can assure that children will be treated with the dignity tha they deserve.