RESCUED. The Quezon City government’s Task Force Sampaguita rescues 377 mendicants, including 167 children, during a city-wide operation on Thursday (Nov. 24, 2022). After a security check by the police, they underwent medical assessments and Covid-19 tests, were interviewed by social workers and profiled by the public employment services. (Courtesy of QC Government Facebook)

MANILA – In celebration of National Children’s Month, the Quezon City government announced that the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) is now a child labor-free zone.

During her State of the City’s Children Report at the QMC on Sunday, Mayor Joy Belmonte awarded the Seal of Child Labor-Free Zone to the park management following the extensive training for Child Rights and Child Labor 101 of tenants, guards, gardeners and administration staff.

Lahat ng establisyemento rito, walang ilegal na batang empleyado. At binuo nila ang kanilang Child Protection Policy upang agarang matugunan ang anumang report o insidente ng (There no more child workers here. They formulated a Child Protection Policy to quickly respond to reports or incidents of) child exploitation,” she said.

Belmonte said it was fitting to grant the seal to QMC since it served as the venue of the Global March Against Child Labor on Jan. 17, 1998.

“This is the historic site where our local intention to end child labor ignited a worldwide conviction that is now being shared by the nations of the world,” she said.

The city government has established the Quezon City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Special Protection of Street Children and Child Laborers (Task Force Sampaguita), chaired by Belmonte.

Ang Task Force Sampaguita ang bumubuo ng komprehensibong plano, hindi lamang para masagip ang mga biktima, gaya ng mga batang sampaguita vendor na madalas nating makita sa mga peligrosong lugar, kundi tutukan din ang mga sanhi ng mga ganitong kondisyon sa pamamagitan ng pagsusuri sa sitwasyon ng kanilang mga pamilya (Task Force Sampaguita formed a comprehensive plan to not only save child victims, like sampaguita vendors who are always in harm’s way while selling, but also to monitor cases of abuse by looking into their families’ conditions),” Belmonte said.

On Thursday night, Task Force Sampaguita rescued 377 individuals, including 167 street children, during a city-wide operation.

Since September, a total of 685 individuals, including 296 child workers, have been rescued by Task Force Sampaguita.

The city government’s extensive profiling to determine the child labor situation discovered that 5,449 boys and 4,773 girls were victims.

Belmonte said the city government has extended financial and educational assistance to the families of the victims while their parents or guardians were granted capital to start a small business.

To address mental health problems among children, Belmonte said the city council approved the Mental Health Code where the city’s first responders such as village employees, teachers and non-teaching staff, will be trained to address first signs of mental health issues among the youth.

Other city initiatives are the QC BRO (Birth Registration Online) to fast-track the registration of birth certificates, cutting the process from one month to just two weeks; New Molave Youth Home in Barangay Payatas, a 340-bed residential and rehabilitation center for children in conflict with the law (CICL) who are provided with rehabilitation services, free legal service, and educational assistance; Kabahagi Center, a hub that provides free disability assessment and therapy interventions for children with disabilities; and Tahanan, a rehabilitation and treatment center for victims of substance abuse.

Belmonte reported that 1,015 CICLs have been assisted from January to Nov. 15, with 700 enrolled in elementary and high schools while 201 have graduated.

A PHP9.4-million fund is earmarked for Bahay Kalinga in Barangay N.S. Amoranto, a residential facility for children in need of special protection.

So far, it has 190 children under its protective custody.

The members of Task Force Sampaguita are the Office of the City Mayor, Social Services Development Department, Public Employment Service Office, QC Police District, Department of Public Order and Safety, QC Health Department, Task Force Disiplina (Discipline), Transport and Traffic Management Department, City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, QMC administration, QC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, General Services Department, QC Anti-Drug Abuse and Advisory Council, Barangay and Community Relations Department, City Legal Department, QC Bangsamoro Affairs Service, Public Affairs and Information Services Department, and all village officials. (PNA)