MANILA - A Philippine hospital has launched an investigation after photographs of a newborn baby gagged with adhesive tape went viral online, with the father claiming a nurse told him: "Your baby was too noisy."
Pictures of the baby boy, his eyes shut and his mouth covered with clear tape as he lay on a sheet, sparked a furore as they spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
The Cebu Puericulture Centre and Maternity House in the central city of Cebu told AFP it was investigating a complaint by Ryan Noval and Jasmine Badocdoc that they had found their five-day-old son at its nursery with his mouth taped over.
Noval wrote that the couple complained to hospital authorities after they were told by a nurse: "Your baby was too noisy so I put that over his mouth."
"Meet my son Yohannes Noval," the father wrote on Facebook. "(He) cannot speak about his horrific experience... so we have to speak out for him." The May 9 post showed the now widely-shared photographs of baby Yohannes with a long strip of tape across his mouth and cheeks.
The pictures sparked a storm of comments among Philippine social media users.
"Hope that stupid nurse (goes) to jail who put the tape in the mouth of the baby," wrote a Twitter user calling herself Mellany Monroy.
"They need to look into this so it does not happen again, how horrible! I don't know how the laws are there but sue, protest!" Facebook user Nicole Vessell wrote on the father's page.
Mar Tan, a registered nurse and an official of the health department's health facilities and services bureau, said he was aware of the public outrage but that there has been no complaint filed with the government ministry.
"Crying is a baby's way of coping. If he's having problems breathing through the nose and you cover his mouth, he could suffocate," Tan said.
Reproduced below is the full Facebook post written by the father of the child:
"One of the most degrading and hurtful feelings parents feel when their baby is supposedly in "good hands" of a professional establishment
"Would you tolerate this? I'm the father of this baby and I CANNOT and WILL NOT tolerate this b******t!!
"Upon Jasmine Janice's visit back to the nursery room on May 9th at around 8:00 pm, she found our baby gagged w/ tape covered over his mouth. This is not even close to being professional or humane.
"Jasmine immediately asked the attending nurse "why is there tape over his mouth?" and the reply she got from the nurse was "your baby was TOO NOISY (crying) so i put that over his mouth...."
"With whatever reasons that nurse may have had to gag our son, there were other factors why our 5 day old baby was crying.
"It was discovered by Jasmine that our baby had peed his diaper!!! was there just NO TIME to check that? do you just put tape over a baby's mouth, just because he's too noisy? did you take time to inspect and do your job properly? ARE YOU RESPECTABLE???
"When the nurse was asked to take off the tape over his mouth, the respond was "you can go ahead and take it off yourself, maam" after Jasmine tried to take the plaster tape off his mouth without success, the attending nurse had to eventually take it off herself and eventually do it and in the process a piece of his upper lip's skin ripped off with the tape as the nurse removed the tape.
"We reported this incident immediately to their INFORMATION DESK, we were instructed not to delete the pictures (uhhh duhh of course not) so we can present them to the Chief Nurse of Maternity Hospital.
"This probably not an isolated incident so we cannot really say your babies are safe at this establishment. What most people don't see in the nursery room is very different from what's actually happening behind closed doors.
"They handle your children there like puppies out of a dog pound. I personally have seen this with my own eyes and I am very surprised this is what people call "a respectable establishment" - with Jay-r Pacaldo, Ahl Bhert, Audie C. Arnado, Jasmine Janice, Jun Rivera and Geraldine Peralta Pacaldo at Cebu Maternity Hospital. "
From the Facebook page of Ryan Noval (Rye Kido) .