Man charged for child abuse
CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office has indicted a man for two counts of child abuse for allegedly using a nine-year-old boy to beg in the streets and not make any effort to return him to his parents.
Prosecutor Naruzen Delfin-Lorete held Syreel Jose Noval Mollena, a resident of Barangay Paypay, Daanbantayan, Cebu, for trial after finding probable cause for violation of Republic Act 7610 or child abuse.
In his complaint, the boy said that sometime in October 2016 he fell asleep near the Inayawan Barangay Hall in Cebu City where he played after school. He was only awakened when someone placed a plastic bag around his head, carried him away, and told him not to shout. He did not ask for help because he allegedly saw the man, whom he later identified as Mollena, carrying a gun.
They boarded a multicab and went to a house with many children, where he was fed and guarded by Merlinda, Mollena’s mother.
The boy alleged he was then brought to Colon Street to beg and later taken to Lapu-Lapu City to give money to Mollena’s father where many children were also present. After that they returned to Daanbantayan. The boy said he once tried to escape but caught and punished by Mollena.
Sometime in October 2016, the boy’s mother said she reported her son missing to the police. Later, her cousin saw him in the streets of Cebu City and when her cousin tried to help him escape someone intervened.
It was only on August 13, 2017 when the two were reunited. The boy’s mother said a friend told her she saw him near a college in Cebu City. She said she went there and saw Mollena who was holding her son while walking. When they stopped, she said she hugged her son tightly and told Mollena that she was the mother.
Mollena allegedly tried to grab her son but she told him that the police were coming to arrest him so he just took the alms and walked away.
Mollena denied the allegations against him claiming he was incapable of committing the crime because he can hardly talk as he suffers from an intellectual disability.
He alleged he saw the boy sleeping near the skywalk and gave him P5 out of pity. When he was about to leave, the boy asked to go with him but he refused. However, he relented when the boy started crying. Eventually they went to Colon Street to beg for alms.
Mollena’s father, Eugenio, clarified that the children the boy saw in his place were the children of his tenants at the ground floor. He also denied receiving the alms the boy was made to beg for.
Eugenio said the complainant was comfortable with his son. He offered to send the boy home but he refused, alleging that he was neglected by his mother, a laundrywoman.
Merlinda also corroborated the statements of her son and husband, saying her son doesn’t own a gun.
Despite that, Lorete held Mollena for other acts of abuse under RA 7610 but not for kidnapping, slavery, and anti-trafficking in persons.
“It is worthy to reiterate that the mother of respondent made known to the barangay authorities that her son brought a child home. Upon inquiry of the barangay focal person, it was discovered that the complainant voluntarily and without force went to with respondent. The mother of respondent tried to return the complainant to her parents but he ran away together with her son,” the resolution read.
Mollena may suffer from moderate intellectual disability as per his medical certificate but his disability could not overcome the fact that complainant suffered a form of abuse while in his company, Lorete ruled. — BRP (FREEMAN)