By now, you must have heard or seen the viral video of the child left alone inside a parked vehicle in Metrowalk, Pasig City. It has sparked outrage among netizens, who have left comments of disbelief, child abuse accusations, and invectives on the original Facebook post. Now, the mom of the boy is saying she is getting bashed on social media based on wrong assumptions.
In a phone interview with Raffy Tulfo on TV5's Aksyon Tanghali, Jenny Caluna admitted her mistake for leaving her toddler son inside the car. "Naiintindihan ko. Alam ko pong nagkamali ako dun na iniwan ko po yung anak ko, pero hindi po ako gumagawa ng kwento," Caluna said in the interview.
Caluna firmly told Tulfo, however, that she was away from her child for about 10 minutes. She also emphatically denied that she and her husband were drinking. They couldn't drink, she said, because she was still breastfeeding, and her husband could not consume alcohol because of a condition (she did not elaborate on what it was).
In her account of the incident, Caluna said she and her husband were at the restaurant they manage, and it was near closing time. Their two children, ages 6 and 1, were with them. The younger one wanted to sleep, so they went to the car so she could nurse him to sleep. Then, she got a call from her husband saying that her 6-year-old was hungry and wanted to order food. Caluna decided to use the restroom first before attending to her older child.
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"Sandaling-sandali lang po yun. Kahit po tignan nila yung CCTV," Caluna insisted.
However, the security guard involved in the incident shared with GMA7's 24 Orasthat he notified the parents of the child at 11 p.m. because the little one was crying inside the car. The guard was surprised to find out that the boy was still inside the vehicle five hours later.
Jasper Pascual, the owner of the Facebook viral video, praised the guard for standing up to the mom who, Pascual said, was angry when she arrived at the scene.
According to Pascual, it was 4 a.m. when he heard Caluna's son crying from the vehicle beside his car. The child was even banging the window as a "cry for help," Pascual wrote on his Facebook post.
Pascual, who admitted he had a bit to drink, wanted to break the vehicle's window to help the child. He asked the guard to find the boy's parents. Pascual said he left the parents and the guard to handle it on their own. He also added he purposely didn't include images or videos of the parents to protect their identities.
In her interview, Caluna says Pascual made the wrong assumptions. "Sana nilapitan niya [Pascual] rin ako para nakausap ko siya. Ayoko siyang lapitan kasi lasing sya. Binaligtad nya ako. Hindi nya ako nilapitan kasi lasing daw ako, baka raw aawayin ko siya."
Caluna reportedly replied in the comments of Pascual's post, but if that was her Facebook account, the comment have since been deleted. One of the screenshots of the alleged comments she made: "Walang magulang na gustong patayin and anak. Nagkataon lang na nagising nun paglabas ko."
As of this writing, Pascual's video has 7.9 million views, 224,000 reactions, 238,000 shares since it was posted on Facebook last July 2, 2018.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is reportedly investigating the incident. Based on Caluna's phone interview with Tulfo, she intends to cooperate with the agency.
In case it needs to be said, kids should never be left unattended inside a vehicle, and they should always be with an adult when inside a moving or parked vehicle. We can think of many scenarios that put a child's life in danger by being left alone. For starters, the car could have been stolen with the child inside it. Suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning is also a possibility when there is poor air circulation.
On hot temperature days, even if the car's windows are down, a child can suffer a heat stroke and experience cardiac abnormalities if left trapped in a hot car for just 20 minutes.
Two kids trapped in a parked car in Taguig in 2013, another two kids in Antipolo in 2016, and a child in Manila last year died due to being left alone or trapped in a vehicle for long periods of time.