The Quezon City Government has convened “Task Force Sampaguita,” a local body that protects minors from forced labor and exploitation by providing them and their families with target-specific programs and interventions.

Mayor Joy Belmonte created Task Force Sampaguita or the Quezon City Interagency Task Force for the Special Protection of Street Children and Child Laborers through Executive Order 41 series of 2022, following the prevalence of sampaguita vendors along the city’s commercial thoroughfares.

In a joint surveillance activity conducted by the QC Public Employment Service Office (PESO) and Social Services Development Department (SSDD) along Tomas Morato last August, children selling Sampaguitas have become more prevalent and are expected to increase as the Christmas season nears. It was also revealed that the majority of children profiled were from other LGUs.

“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,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Mayor Belmonte will serve as the chairperson of the body, with Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Head Rogelio Reyes as Co-chairperson and Social Services Development Department (SSDD) Head Fe Macale as Vice-chairperson. There will also be 17 member offices, as well as two People’s Council Representatives from the business sector and children’s rights sector.

Task Force Sampaguita will craft a local action plan based on the guidelines of Republic Act 7610 as amended by RA 9231 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, Presidential Decree No. 1563 or the Anti-Medicancy Law, and other related legislative measures.

The body 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 such as the DSWD, NGOs and LGUs where many of these street children are from. Linkages with the Department of Labor and Employment will also be enhanced to avail of national government services for child laborers. Other issues and concerns affecting street children and child laborers will also be addressed by the task force.

At present, the task force is assisting the families of profiled children to secure QCitizen IDs especially for solo parents, livelihood assistance, educational assistance for children-at-risk, Parent Effectiveness Service (PES) for parents, and to coordinate with their Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children. Profiled children from other cities are escorted back to their places of residence in coordination with their LGUs. The public is enjoined to report observed cases of street children and child labor at QC Hotline 122.