Belmonte wants to make QC child labor-free

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Belmonte wants to make QC child labor-free
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte joins the celebration of National Children’s Month at Quezon Memorial Circle yesterday.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte yesterday urged different stakeholders to join the city’s campaign to eradicate child labor and exploitation.

Speaking at her annual State of the City’s Children Report, Belmonte underscored the need for a multisectoral approach to ensure that the youth are protected from abuse and exploitation.

“As head of the city government, I accept the important responsibility, and I join the call to end child labor,” she said in Filipino. “Raising Quezon City’s youth is a responsibility of the entire city. Every community has to work together to prevent abuses of children.”

As part of the celebration of National Children’s Month, the local government launched the “Seal of Child Labor-Free Zone” to recognize areas and establishments committed to end illegal child labor.

Belmonte awarded the seal to the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) for ensuring that illegal child labor is not happening within its premises and educating workers on the rights of children.

The national park, which is administratively managed by the city government, came up with a child protection policy to respond to reports or incidents of child exploitation.

“We will not condone child labor. We will not allow that here in our city,” Belmonte said.

“If the QMC was able to be child labor-free, then the entire city can do it. A single case of an exploited child in our city is enough to say that we are not free. The ‘Batang Malaya’ seal is a reminder of our promise to reject, prevent and make sure that there is no illegal child labor in Quezon City,” she added.

Belmonte said it was only fitting to award the recognition to the QMC, which served as the starting point of the Global March Against Child Labor in 1998.

“This is where the biggest social movement against the exploitation of children started. This is the historic site where our intention to end child labor ignited a worldwide conviction that is now being shared by the nations of the world,” the mayor said.

In her report, Belmonte outlined the other initiatives adopted by the city to address the abuse and exploitation of children.

Among them is the establishment of Task Force Sampaguita, an inter-agency body to protect street children and child laborers.

Since September, the task force has rescued some 685 people, including 296 child workers.

The city government also conducted an extensive profiling to determine the child labor situation in the city, noting that at least 5,449 boys and 4,773 girls have been victims of exploitation.

Belmonte said the city government has extended financial, educational and livelihood assistance to residents. Those from other areas were referred to their respective local government units.


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