The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office VII (DSWD FO VII), shed light on the allegation of the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network that it barred an IP child from receiving a birthday cake.

The child being referred to was among the minors rescued by the Cebu City Social Welfare and Development Office in February. The child, together with four other IP children, is currently under the custody of the DSWD Center for Women and Children.

The FO said that on March 28, the SOS team went to the Center for Women and Children to give a birthday cake to the IP child who was allegedly celebrating his or her birthday. However, based on the birth certificates and a certification from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), neither of the five IP children staying at the center is celebrating his or her birthday on the said date.

The FO explained further that based on policy, the center accepts visitors only every Friday. Furthermore, only the parents, immediate family members, and members of the case management team are allowed to visit the children at the center. The FO said that the parents last visited their children at the center in February.

The FO emphasized that visitors in the center are limited due to the pandemic. The FO assured that all personnel of the center are strictly following the minimum standard health protocol of wearing face masks and face shield, practicing social distancing, and washing and sanitizing of hands at all times.  Violators of these protocols are subject to investigation.

The FO expressed its commitment to continue to uphold the best interest of the children and assured that their safety and overall well-being is a primordial consideration. ###

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