By Rjhay E. Laurea
QUEZON CITY — The Quezon City government on Sunday announced that the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) is now a child-labor-free zone in celebration of National Children’s Month.
In her State of the City’s Children Report at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Mayor Joy Belmonte awarded the Seal of Child Labor-Free Zone to QMC after all of its tenants, guards, gardeners, and admin staff underwent extensive training for Child Rights and Child Labor 101.
“Lahat ng establisimiyento rito, walang ilegal na batang empleyado. At binuo nila ang kanilang Child Protection Policy upang agarang matugunan ang anumang report o insidente ng child exploitation (All of the establishments here has no illegal child laborer. And they created their Child Protection Policy to urgently respond to any report or incident of child exploitation),” she said.
Belmonte explained it was fitting to grant the said accolade to QMC since it served as the venue where the Global March Against Child Labor took place on January 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.
Mayor Belmonte has established the Quezon City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Special Protection of Street Children and Child Laborers or Task Force Sampaguita as part of the city government’s efforts to eradicate child labor.
Created by virtue of Executive Order No. 41, Series of 2022, the Task Force has consolidated and intensified all efforts to eradicate all forms of child labor in Quezon City.
“Ang Task Force Sampaguita, kung saan ako mismo ang Chairperson, ang bumubuo ng komprehensibong plano, hindi lamang para masagip ang mga biktima, gaya ng mga batang sampaguita vendors, 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, in which I served as Chairperson, will create a comprehensive plan, not only to rescue the victims like those sampaguita vendors whom we often see in dangerous places, but also to focus on the cause of this condition through analyzation of the situation of their family condition) ,” Belmonte said.
Since September, some 685 individuals, including 296 child workers, have been rescued by Task Force Sampaguita. The city government also conducted extensive profiling to determine the child labor situation in the city where it was discovered that 5,449 boys and 4,773 girls were victims of child labor.
Belmonte said the city government has extended financial and educational assistance to the families of these victims as part of its initiative. They were also granted capital to help them establish a small business where they can source their livelihood.
To address mental health problems among children, Belmonte said the city council has approved the Mental Health Code where the city’s first responders, such as barangay employees, teachers, and non-teaching staff, will be trained to address first signs of mental health problems among students.
The city government also launched QC BRO (Birth Registration Online) to fast-track the timely registration of birth certificates, cutting the process from one month to just two weeks.
Further, Belmonte said a 340-bed residential and rehabilitation center – the New Molave Youth Home – has been established in Barangay Payatas for children in conflict with the law (CICL) where they are provided with rehabilitation services, free legal service, and education.
“Nasa 1,015 CICLs ang natulungan ng mga programang ito simula January hanggang November 15. Dahil karapatan nilang matuto, garantisado iyan dito sa QC, at hindi hadlang ang rehabilitasyon sa kanilang edukasyon (A total of 1,015 CICLs benefited from this program from January to November 15. Because it is their right to learn, we assure that here in QC, and it’s not only rehabilitation on their education),” she said.
As of the last count, the Mayor noted that more than 700 CICLs are already enrolled in elementary and high school while 201 have already graduated.
Some P9.4 million was also earmarked for the opening of Bahay Kalinga, a residential facility for 190 children in need of special protection, in Barangay N.S. Amoranto.
The city government also has the Kabahagi Center, a hub that provides free disability assessment and therapeutic interventions for children with disabilities, and Tahanan, a rehabilitation and treatment center for victims of substance abuse. (ai/mtvn)