CABANATUAN CITY – The city’s social welfare and development office here is conducting a non-stop campaign against child trafficking and child exploitation with the end in view of minimizing trauma on the youngsters’ impressionable minds.
Ms. Helen Bagasao, city social welfare and development officer, with the assistance of the police, health offices, and a handful of civic organizations, have been periodically conducting visits of the workplaces which are possible employers of minor persons.
Bagasao reported during a recent media forum aired over DWJJ that most of the employers of minor children are the parents of the children themselves.
In the past year, there have been apprehensions of minor girl workers employed by eateries and videoke bars which serve as fronts for prostitution. Although the corresponding charges have been filed with the various trial courts, no convictions have been known yet as the establishment owners have fled and the places of business have just made a change of name.
The frequent and nagging presence of social workers in their fun houses, have resulted in ferreting out illegal operators hiring minors and undocumented entertainers and guest relations officers. Now, every single operator here have learned to follow the local health laws or else they face closure and face charges harboring and exploiting minors.
Ms. Bagasao takes pride that the coordination of her office and that the health office under Dr. Gilbert Embuscado has significantly contributed to the non-proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases in this city with no less than 30 fun houses offering entertainment packages to the city’s macho population.
The busiest office of the city government, undertaking various welfare projects and support services with other local and national undertakings, Ms. Bagasao has credited Mayor Jay Vergara for his full support of her office’s activities.
Ms. Bagasao revealed that the care and ministration of the welfare of street children have been the prime concern of the mayor’s better half, Ma’am Ria.
Thanks to her, Ms. Bagasao said, the operation of the Haven of Joy for Street Children Center and Roving Day Care Center for Street Children have been running smoothly and effectively.
Under this program, she said, the kids, from age seven to 14, gets daily tutoring of an average of three hours daily. A special teacher provided by the local school board sees to it that those under the centers get to know their ABCs. Value formation is paramount daily bread for the youngsters.
Every now and then, the street kids under the city’s centers receive feeding and medical care.
After their tutoring, the street waifs are allowed to go about their trade mopping up floors of passenger vehicles, selling newspapers, tending stores, running errands for whoever needs their services. No complaints have reached the welfare office, it was learned.
The parents utilizing the services of their young children are reminded that they should not be pushed to the limit unlike their elders.
Also, Ms. Bagasao’s office is carefully screening households availing of domestic services offered by minors.
Minor domestic helpers coming from outside the province and region are a “no-no” for the city’s social welfare’s office, the rationale here being that they are much too young to resist exploitation, especially the sexual kind, that might be practiced on them by their employers.
She said they had intervened in several cases where they cause the return of the minors to their point of origin back to their parents. – MAGTANGGOL C. VILAR