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Erring children maltreated by orphanage staff, Senate told

SENATORS were told yesterday that an employee of the Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI) orphanage, which was ordered closed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, has allegedly been hurting children each time they violate the center’s rules.

Undersecretary Janella Estrada, of the National Authority for Childcare, said the children were allegedly physically hurt by a certain “Kuya Eddie,” one of the “house parents” for orphan boys staying at the GHI, when orphanage owner Charity Graff could not handle the children herself.

Estrada showed a two-minute video clip, with the children’s faces blurred, as proof of the allegations before the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality which is looking into the cease-and-desist order issued by the DSWD against the GHI last May due to safety issues.

Estrada said the video was shot only last Wednesday when staff members of the DSWD interacted with the children who are now staying at the Nayon ng Kabataan in Mandaluyong City.

In the video, the children alleged that Kuya Eddie punched some of them when they are being “makulit” or naughty, while other children were hit with a rubber sandals or wooden stick, and still others were slapped.

“Kapag hindi kaya ni Ma’am Charity, nagsususbong siya kay Kuya Eddie. Kapag wala sa mood si Kuya Eddie, pumupunta siya (kung) sino ang sinumbong, sasaktan niya (When Ma’am Charity could not handle the situation, he will report us to Kuya Eddie. When he is not in the mood, Kuya Eddie will approach whoever was reported to him and hurt that person),” an orphan said.

One child recalled that if their rooms were messy, Kuya Eddie hits them with a wooden stick.

The children also said the older boys were mostly at the receiving end of Kuya Eddie’s punishments.

They said Graff knew what Kuya Eddie was maltreating them.

One of the legal counsel of GHI said she only knows of two instances when Kuya Eddie “punished” the orphans.

“I know of two incidents where the boys got into a scuffle and they hurt each other so badly that they were punished by Kuya Eddie, but only a spank on the butt,” she told the committee.

She said that was the first time she heard that Kuya Eddie