By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City government has renewed its partnership with the Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village of the ABS-CBN Foundation for the protection and welfare of the children in recognition of National Children’s Month.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which was signed by both parties, marks the second straight year of cooperation between the local government and Bantay Bata 163.
Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed that one of her major priorities was to preserve children’s rights, saying that they are the country’s future.
“Para sa akin, ang isang lungsod ay nasusukat sa pagmamahal na ibinibigay niya sa kanyang mga bata, to those who are most vulnerable (For me, the city’s love for the children can be measured by the various assistance it provides to the most vulnerable),” Belmonte said.
Belmonte was the one who organized the 1st QC Children’s Summit in 2010 that identified the priority issues and concerns of the city’s children.
This year, Belmonte has pledged P28 million in financial assistance to the Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village, which provides shelter and care to children who need medium to long-term rehabilitation referred by the city’s Social Service Development Department (SSDD).
Based in Norzagaray, Bulacan, the Children’s Village is a half-way home for children who are neglected, abandoned, abused and exploited.
It ensures residential care services for its clients, providing basic needs, as well as holistic therapy and resilience programs, conducted by experts and trained social workers in a family-like environment.
“The partnership of the QC government with Bantay Bata 163 goes beyond the rescue and protection of children in situations of abuse, that is provided thru the Hotline 163 and the Children’s Village. It is extending beyond the village because of the various new programs which aim to create a safer, more protective environment for our children,” said Belmonte.
Quezon City Vice-Mayor Gian Sotto, who signed the MOA in behalf of the QC government, said it is meaningful to be a part of this worthy endeavor since strengthening Filipino families is one of his advocacies.
“Mahalaga sa akin na tama ang palaki sa bata at nagagabayan sila sa tamang landas (It is important for me that the children are raised well and are guided to the right path),” said Sotto.
During her term as Presiding Officer of the QC Council, Belmonte’s advocacy to make QC a “child-friendly city” became a reality when the QC Children’s Code was passed in 2012.
In 2012, Belmonte pushed for the passage of an ordinance creating a QC protection center for women, children and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders who are victims of violence and abuse.
Quezon City’s status as a child-friendly local government unit was underscored after it received a Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance from the Council for the Welfare of Children.
Jing Castaneda, ABS-CBN Anchor/Host and Program Director of Bantay Bata 163 said, the 22-year-old NGO has also been able to help the QC government in ensuring that poor yet deserving children of QC have access to inclusive and quality education through the Bantay Edukasyon scholarship assistance.
Several communities in QC have also benefited from the various community outreach programs conducted by Bantay Bata 163 in collaboration with the LGU, the most recent of which was in Barangay Payatas.
Belmonte, for her part added, that the QC government and Bantay Bata 163 are continuously working together to uphold the rights of the Filipino children especially in the areas of child abuse prevention and mental health issues confronting our children today, positive parenting and in the crafting of child protection policies to benefit the children of QC.
With their same mission and vision, Quezon City and Bantay Bata 163 continue their combined efforts in championing the rights of the Filipino children.
“With all these initiatives of the QC government looking at the best interest of their children, it is truly deserving to be conferred with the Seal of Child-Friendly Local Government Unit for 2018,” said Castaneda.