No reunion for George Francis, mother until DSWD completes examinations

September 18, 2010

Helen Flores with Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star
September 18, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The mother of George Francis, the baby abandoned on a Gulf Air jet last Sept. 12, will not be reunited with her son  until the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) completes the extensive examination on the child, including DNA and psychological testing, officials said yesterday.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told a press conference yesterday that the DSWD needs at least a month to confirm if the overseas Filipino worker claiming to be the mother of George Francis is really who she says she is.

Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, who already met the mother, said the woman wants to be reunited with her son.

Soliman said the DSWD has to perform DNA test to confirm if the woman is the baby’s mother, adding that the agency has to conduct a psychological intervention on the alleged mother.

“The alleged mother is still an alleged mother, we need to go through other tests to determine if indeed she is the mother,” Soliman said.

Asked when the mother could be reunited with her baby, Soliman said: “Until we are certain that she is the mother of the baby, we also have to listen to the advice of our psychologists.”

Meanwhile, Soliman also appealed to the media to wait for the department’s final report and not to turn the story into a telenovela.

“This is an appeal to the media and the public to understand that above all, we are here to protect the welfare of all the parties concerned. Let us give them time to cope with the situation that has befallen their lives,” the DSWD chief said.

“Hence, let us spare them from undue publicity and scrutiny,” Soliman said.

Revilla vowed yesterday to work hand in hand with the DSWD to ensure the safety of mother and baby.

“I presume she is also a victim,” Revilla said in the same press conference.

Soliman said George Francis is in good health.

“He is fine and recovering from a minor head bump, but he is generally in good health, stabilizing and growing stronger by the day,” Soliman said.

The National Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday the mother might have been a victim of human trafficking or a sexual crime.

NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula said the bureau is now investigating and has launched a manhunt for the recruiter and the mother’s employer who might have knowledge of what really happened to the victim while she was working abroad.

He said the victim admitted to NBI investigators that she is the mother of the baby who was found in a trash bag unloaded off a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Manila last Sunday.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan has also taken up the cudgels for the mother of the abandoned baby.

Pangilinan echoed the statements made by Gatdula that the mother, who is now in their custody, might have been a victim of sexual abuse.

“Let us not be quick to judge the mother who abandoned her child. She could very well be the victim of circumstance and if so may need compassion and understanding rather than condemnation and scorn,” Pangilinan said.

The senator was reacting to statements coming from various sectors, including the Catholic Church, condemning the mother for abandoning her child.

On top of the verbal attacks against the mother, authorities are also mulling the filing of criminal charges against her for her action.

Pangilinan urged authorities to be considerate in evaluating her case and to take into account all of the circumstances surrounding her decision to leave her child.

“As regards the filing of charges against her, the NBI and the Department of Justice and police should weigh the matter carefully before pursuing criminal charges,” he said.

“If there are mitigating circumstances then we should give the mother enough leeway. As an OFW who sacrificed so much to find work abroad, we ought to refrain from being too quick to condemn and judge her,” he added.

The mother has apparently indicated that she was sexually abused and has told the authorities that she regretted her decision to leave her child in the plane.

She has since asked to be reunited with her child who is currently in the custody of the DSWD.

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