The Quezon City Government vowed to rescue mendicants including street children and child laborers from hazardous situations, through a series of city-wide reach out operations.

On Thursday night, Task Force Sampaguita, the city’s inter-agency body that protects children from exploitation, rescued a total of 377 individuals, including 167 children in street situations (CISS) during its first city-wide reach out operation.

“Noong lumabas ako sa isang restaurant, nakita ko ang daming batang nagtitinda ng sampaguita. Nakita ko ‘yan bilang isang senyas ng mas malaking problema sa lipunan, kung saan ang mga kabataan ay napipilitang magtrabaho o nae-exploit na kailangan nating i-rescue para magkaroon ng mas magandang kinabukasan,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

The task force conducted its rescue ops in 36 areas of concern which are seen to have been proliferated by CISS based on the team’s surveillance.

The rescued individuals were processed in Quezon Memorial Circle. Social workers conducted interviews and needs assessment.

Legal assistance, medical check-up, COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing, drug testing, and other city services were made available for rescued individuals needing immediate intervention.

According to the Task Force’s Co-Chairperson Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Head Rogelio Reyes, the city has already institutionalized the reach-out operation process and crafted target-specific interventions for the rescued individuals, regardless of their residency.

“Dahil institutionalized na, makakasiguro ang mga QCitizen na magpapatuloy ang ating rescue operations para tuluyan nang matuldukan ang child labor issue sa lungsod,” Reyes explained.

Barangay reports and referrals will be the basis of the reach out operations. After the rescue, social workers and youth volunteers will conduct interviews and assessments and extend counseling. They will also conduct orientations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and will prepare initial assessment reports to facilitate the turn-over of individuals to other LGUs or institutions.

For CISS living in Quezon City, the Social Services Development Department (SSDD) will conduct home visits to inform parents with regards to their children’s condition. Parenting Capability Assessments will also be initiated, as well as case conferences with barangays and parents to further discuss the services or interventions needed by individuals or their families.

After this, the children will be reintegrated into their families. The city will also be monitoring families for aftercare interventions.

CISS can also be referred to the city’s processing centers depending on their profiles, such as to the Quezon City Processing Center in Brgy. NS Amoranto for the general population; Bahay Kalinga for Children; and Bahay Aruga for the Elderly.

Non-residents, on the other hand, will be referred to their  cities’ or provinces’ social welfare offices where they are permanent residents.

Since its creation last September, TF Sampaguita has rescued a total of 852 individuals including 296 street children.

Task Force Sampaguita was created through Mayor Belmonte’s Executive Order 41 series of 2022 to craft long-term plans to address mendicancy and child exploitation.

Member departments and agencies include the Office of the City Mayor, SSDD, PESO, Quezon City Police District (QCPD), Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS), QC Health Department (QCHD), TF Disiplina, Transport and Traffic Management Department (TTMD), City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), Quezon Memorial Circle Administration, QC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (QCDRRMO), General Services Department (GSD), QC Anti-Drug Abuse and Advisory Council (QCADAAC), Barangay and Community Relations Department (BCRD), City Legal Department, QC Bangsamoro Affairs Service, Public Affairs and Information Services Department (PAISD), and barangays.