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Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte apologized to the mother of the 2-year-old boy who died following severe physical abuse at the hands of his guardians.

“I asked for forgiveness because had we known, maybe we could have saved him,” the mayor told the media after the burial of Jhon Earl Cagalitan Wednesday afternoon.

Duterte comforted the boy’s grieving mother, Erlinda, at the burial. She offered help, including legal services. The mayor wanted an expeditious resolution of the case.

“I am really sorry for what happened,” the mayor told Erlinda. “I am sorry because we did not know that Jhon Earl was suffering from abuse. We did not know what he was going through.”

The mayor has hired a private prosecutor to pursue appropriate charges against the suspects, Ronilo and Sarah Jane Alcain.

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,” she said.

After the burial, Mayor Sara called on the public to help the local 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 the abused child.

The hotline was named after Kean Gabriel, the 7-year-old boy who also died because of physical abuse in August. CIO