Quezon City forms task force vs child labor, exploitation

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Quezon City forms task force vs child labor, exploitation
This undated file photo shows children playing.
UNICEF / Joshua Estey, File

MANILA, Philippines — Responding to the increase in children selling sampaguita in different parts of Quezon City, the local government yesterday said it has established a task force to protect minors from forced labor and exploitation.

Mayor Joy Belmonte, through an executive order, created Task Force Sampaguita.

A joint surveillance activity conducted by the city’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO) and Social Services Development Department (SSDD) reported the prevalence of children selling sampaguita along Tomas Morato Avenue and other commercial areas.

The city said it expects their number to further increase as the Christmas season nears.

According to the local government, most of the children profiled were not Quezon City residents.

“Due to hardships in life, some young people are being forced to spend their time working instead of studying. The city government is here to support their families by providing various assistance and services,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte will chair the task force, with PESO head Rogelio Reyes as co-chairperson and SSDD head Fe Macale as vice chairperson. It will be composed of 17 members from different local offices, as well as two representatives from the business and children’s rights sectors.

Task Force Sampaguita will craft a local action plan based on existing policies, including the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and the Anti-Mendicancy Law.

It will also lay the policy-framework for the city-wide profiling of street children and their families, as well as develop a referral system to relevant agencies and other local government units where they reside.

At present, the task force is assisting the families of profiled children to secure QCitizen IDs and help avail of livelihood and financial assistance.

Children from other cities were escorted back to their places of residence in coordination with their respective LGUs.

The city government urged the public to report observed cases of street children and child labor through its hotline 122.


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