The Quezon City government launched on Thursday, Nov. 24, a city-wide rescue and reach-out operation for child laborers, medicants (beggars) and street dwellers in the city.
The reach-out operation was led by the Task Force Sampaguita headed by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and composed of different departments of the local government.
“Ang Task Force Sampaguita ay binuo po namin nang mapagmasadan namin na ang dami-dami ng mga kabataan na nailalagay sa peligro ang kani-kanilang mga buhay at ang kanilang kalagayan dahil sila ay nagagamit ng ibat-ibang mga sindikato, o kaya naman kahit walang sindikato, sila ay napipilitan maghanapbuhay dahil mahirap ang kalagayan ng kanilang pamilya (We created the Task Force Sampaguita after we observed so many minors whose lives were put in danger because they are being used by various syndicates or they are forced to earn a living due to the poor situation of their family),” Belmonte said.
She added that the task force aims to rescue the children and provide intervention to their families to prevent the minors from putting their lives in danger on the city’s streets again.
The Task Force Sampaguita was created through Executive Order No. 41, Series of 2022, signed by Mayor Belmonte last September.
According to the city government, around 850 members of the Social Services and Development Department (SSDD), Public Employment and Services Office (PESO), Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS), Task Force on Transport and Traffic Management (TFTTM), Task Force Disiplina (TFD), QC Bangsamoro Affairs Service (QCBAS), Barangay and Community Relations Department (BCRD), Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and other units will be deployed to 36 identified target areas in the city to conduct the reach-out operation.
SSDD Community Outreach Division head Eileen Velasco said that the Sama-Bajau and adults who live on the city’s streets are also among those who will be rescued on Thursday.
She reminded the personnel not to force the minors and the women to come with them.
Belmonte said that there are trained female police officers and social workers who will be talking to the rescued children to ensure their safety.
“We made sure, prior to this operation, na maayos ang magiging galaw ng ating operations para maiwasan ang mga sinasabing nasasaktan sila, napupuwersa sila, napipilitan sila (that the movement of our operations will be smooth to avoid hurting or forcing them),” Belmonte said.
The rescued individuals will be brought to the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) covered court to undergo different processes such as assessment, profiling, and medical checkup. They will also be given food before referring or turning them over to a shelter in the city. Tents have also been installed in the covered court to serve as a waiting area for the children.
Belmonte said that if the rescued child is not from QC, the city government will coordinate to the social services department of the local government of the city where the minor originally lives.