In celebration of National Children’s Month, the Quezon City government on Sunday announced that the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) is now a child labor-free zone.

During 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 establisimyento 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,” she said.

Belmonte said it was fitting to grant the said feat 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.

As part of the city government’s efforts to eradicate child labor, Belmonte said she has established the Quezon City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Special Protection of Street Children and Child Laborers or Task Force Sampaguita.

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,” Belmonte said.

Since September, some 685 individuals, including 296 child workers, have been rescued by Task Force Sampaguita. The city government also conducted an 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. 

As part of its initiative, Belmonte said the city government has extended financial and educational assistance to the families of these victims. 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.

“Sa paraang ito, mabilis silang maire-refer sa mga propesyonal. Tuturuan din ang nasabing focal persons ng psychological first aid at iba pang protocol para sa referral,” she pointed out.

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,” she said.

As of 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 children in need of special protection, in Barangay N.S. Amoranto.

“Mula January hanggang November 15, may 190 na bata na, ang nasa protective custody nito. Dito, binibigyan natin sila ng masustansyang pagkain, medical assistance, at tinuturuan din sila sa ilalim ng ALS at Special Education,” she added.

The city government also has the Kabahagi Center, a hub that provides free disability assessment and therapy interventions for children with disabilities, and Tahanan, a rehabilitation and treatment center for victims of substance abuse.