A 13-year-old boy with special needs who was locked in a steel cage died in a fire that broke out in his family’s home in Calape town on Sunday afternoon.
The fire which was believed to have been caused by an unattended candle erupted at around 3:57 p.m. and razed the house owned by one Maxima Umosuro, the victim’s grandmother, in Barangay Tinibgan, said SFO1 Ruel Tabudlong of the Calape Fire Station.
“Ang mama aning [bata] gadagkot og kandila unya didto gi ugbok sa Orocan, siguro na biyaan ni, nilakaw man siguro ni siya unya nakalimtan niya,” said Tabudlong.
No one else was injured due to the blaze which was declared under control at 4:20 p.m.
According to Staff Sgt. Francis Monton of the Calape Police Station, the 13-year-old boy who was padlocked inside a cage in the house and his older brother, who is also a minor, were left alone at their home when the fire broke out.
The children lived with their grandmother Maxima and their mother Emelda who, authorities said, also has a mental disorder.
However, both adults left their house before the fire started leaving the two children without supervision.
“Kadtong inahan [Emelda] paghuman og dagkot, hing lakaw pud mao mga bata ray nahibilin,” he added.
According to Monton, the elder boy tried to open the cage and save his brother but the fire had already engulfed their home.
“Mi attempt to iyang igsuon pero wa pud niya matabangan tungod sa sobra kainit na,” said Monton.
Monton on Thursday, four days after the incident, said that they will still coordinate with the Women’s and Children’s Protections Desk (WCPD) to determine if the family may be held criminally liable for locking up the boy in a cage.
No investigation on the boy’s lockup inside a cage has been conducted as of Thursday.
“Sa analysis namo ana, gibutang pud na diha nila kay hadlok pud sila og makagawas ng bata kay laagan man na,” said Monton.
“Daghan man gung sitwasyon na ngana, ila pud sigurong gi huna-huna kay laagan man ning bataa pud, galing og buhian nila sila gihapoy mo suffer,” he added.
Meanwhile, Teohenisa Algusar of the Calape Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office said that it is up to the police to determine if charges can be filed against the family.
“Ang atoang police ray makabantay ana og naa ba kahay e-file na kaso ana nila,” Algusar said.
Asked if it was legal to lock the boy up in a cage, Algusar said it was “okay for safekeeping.”
“Lami man pud siya og butanganan, naa man pud siyay katre,” she added.
According to Algusar, the family has been relocated to a daycare center and has received assistance from the local government unit.
She said that Emelda is also set to be recommended for admission at a mental health facility in Cebu. (A. Doydora)