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Street children as young as five are being caged in brutal detention centres alongside adult criminals in a cynical drive to smarten up the Philippines capital ahead of a visit by Pope Francis this week.
Hundreds of boys and girls have been rounded up from doorways and roadsides by police and officials and put behind bars in recent weeks to make the poverty-racked city more presentable when Pope Francis arrives tomorrow, a Mail Online investigation has found.
In a blatant abuse of the country's own child protection laws, the terrified children are locked up in filthy detention centres where they sleep on concrete floors and where many of them are beaten or abused by older inmates and adult prisoners and, in some cases, starved and chained to pillars.
Six million people are expected to attend an open air mass conducted by Pope Francis in Manila's Rizal Park on Sunday, which will watched by a global TV audience and officials appear determined to ensure that urchins are hidden from view.
Other children were allegedly encouraged to throw pebbles at her as she screamed in pain and fear in the detention late last year.
Youngsters living in the city's doorways and roadsides are being rounded up despite many having committed no crime A Mail Online investigation has uncovered the horrendous conditions the children are kept in, with many of them beaten, or tied to poles.
This picture of a starving 11-year-old led to protests against the centres - but nothing has changed Mail Online found dozens of street children locked up in appalling conditions alongside adult criminals in Manila, where a senior official admitted there had been an intensive round-up by police and government workers to make sure they are not seen by Pope Francis.