Two minors under quarantine in a local government facility in Barangay Tinitian, Roxas were padlocked inside their holding area by a local village chief, stating it was part of their “security measures”.
Andrew Golifardo, village chief of Barangay Tinitian, in an exclusive interview with Palawan News Wednesday, admitted padlocking the minors inside their quarantine facility but justified it as necessary to ensure the safety of the children.
“Totoo po pinadlock pero ‘yon ay bahagi ng security measure natin. Ayaw ko rin na may mangyari sa mga bata pag gabi. Kailangan nakalagay naman sila sa sigurado,” Golifardo said.
Palawan News has learned from a relative of the children that upon arrival from Cebu on June 14, the children aged 14 and 12 got separated from their cousin who was with them during the return trip but was quarantined in a city facility. The two children, ostensibly because they are residents of Roxas, were directly sent to their hometown where they were placed in the quarantine facility of Tinitian.
Golifardo, in an interview with Palawan News, said they were acting to protect both the quarantined minors and the barangay tanods who are overseeing their facility, and that they are not maltreating the children.
He pointed out that the gates are only locked in the evening and that the parents of the minors had been informed about the situation. He said that due to the limited power supply in the area and frequent electric service interruptions, the lockdown on the facility was necessary.
“In-advice ko sa magulang ng mga bata na ito noong kararating na nitong mga bata na wala kaming electric power na magdamag. Once na pagpatay na ng portable generator namin, abandoned yong area. Halimbawa pasukin dyan patayin sila, kawawa mga bata bago kami kulong,” Golifardo said.
Golifardo challenged other public officials to check with the facility and their imposed protocol to ensure that there is no such maltreatment on the returning individuals at the quarantine facility.
“Sa akin kanina, humamon na po ako na pumunta ‘yong DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), ‘yong police, ‘yong DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) kung may maltreatment sa ginagawa natin. Kasi nakiusap din ako sa tatay niya sabi ko ‘yong pag-padlock ko dyan huwag niyo imamasama dahil ayaw kong may mangyari sa mga bata,” Golifardo added.
Romalyn Racho, regional head of Health Education and Promotion Unit (HEPU) of the Department of Health (DOH), said Wednesday their office is probing the incident.
“Nakausap na [ang] authorities in Roxas. They issued a summon to the barangay captain na. [We] will await further developments from the local government unit (LGU), as per our ICS commander,” Racho told Palawan News.
“But then again we are talking of minors and in the context of locking them up, sana ay hindi. There should be someone dedicated to watch the minors,” Racho added.