MANILA – The Quezon City government has created a task force that will protect children from forced labor and exploitation.
Mayor Joy Belmonte will act as chairperson of the QC City Interagency Task Force for the Special Protection of Street Children and Child Laborers, otherwise known as "Task Force Sampaguita”.
The task force, created through Executive Order 41 series of 2022, is the result of joint surveillance conducted by the QC Public Employment Service Office and the Social Services Development Department along Tomas Morato Avenue in August.
The surveillance showed that the number of children selling garlands of sampaguita flowers on the road has become rampant, although most of the minors are from nearby cities.
Belmonte added that with the coming Christmas season, they are expecting a rise in the number of children being forced to work.
“Task Force Sampaguita will craft a local action plan on how to address the problem based on the guidelines set forth under Republic Act 7610, the Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, and Presidential Decree No. 1563 or the Anti-Mendicancy Law, and other related legislative measures,” Belmonte said in a statement on Saturday.
The task force will also formulate a policy framework that will profile street children, as well as their families.
The city government will develop a referral system that will be forwarded to relevant government agencies, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, various non-governmental organizations, and local government units where the children reside.
QC will strengthen its cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment to avail of assistance and services for child laborers.
“We will also coordinate with the families of the said children in order to address issues and concerns affecting the street children and child laborers,” Belmonte said.
The city government is assisting the families of the children already profiled and helping them secure a QCitizen identification card that would enable them to receive benefits for livelihood and educational assistance and help them coordinate better with their village officials.
Profiled children from other cities will be escorted back to their places of residence.
Belmonte urged the public to report observed cases of street children and child labor through QC Hotline 122.
"Dahil sa hirap ng buhay, napipilitan ang ilang kabataan na ilaan ang kanilang oras sa pagtatrabaho imbes na sa pag-aaral. Narito ang pamahalaang lungsod para alalayan at suportahan ang kanilang pamilya sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng iba-ibang tulong at serbisyo (Due to hardships, young people are forced to work instead of studying. The city government is here to support them and their family by providing various assistance and services," she said. (PNA)