Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City has personally apologized to the mother of two-year-old John Earl Cagalitan who died in the hands of his guardians earlier this month.
“I asked for forgiveness because had we known, maybe we could have saved him,” Mayor Duterte said during the burial of John Earl in Davao City last week.
“I am really sorry for what happened,” Duterte told the victim’s mother Erlinda. “I am sorry because we did not know that John Earl was suffering from abuse. We did not know what he was going through.”
Duterte personally comforted Erlinda during the burial and said that the city government was offering its full services for the boy to receive swift justice.
The mayor has hired a private prosecutor to pursue appropriate charges against the suspects, Ronilo and Sarah Jane Alcain, the City Information Office said. Sarah Jane is Erlinda’s niece.
Erlinda left her son under the care of Sarah Jane after she found a job in Bahrain. “I left because I had dreams and plans for my family,” Erlinda said.
After the burial, Duterte called on the public to help the city government in its campaign against child abuse.
“If you know a child who is suffering from abuse, tell us and we will save the child,” she said. “You can help us end the suffering of a child or we can save the child from death.”
Last month, the city government launched the Kean Gabriel Hotline. By texting or calling 0908-818-4444, a team of professionals will rescue an abused child. The hotline was named after Kean Gabriel, a seven-year-old boy who also died because of physical abuse last August. (Yas D. Ocampo)