Belmonte addresses critical gaps in youth data, urges action

Izzy Lee, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2023 07:39 PM

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte during her 5th State of the City's Children report. Izzy Lee, ABS-CBN News.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte during her 5th State of the City's Children report. Izzy Lee, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA - Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte emphasized the lack of accurate and comprehensive data related to youth cases during her 5th State of the City's Children report at the Quezon Memorial Circle Covered Court on Sunday.
With 1.1 million youth residing in Quezon City, Belmonte stated that the city lacks proper data on youth abuse.
From January, only 24 cases of violence against women and children were reported out of 47,567 helpline 122 calls. There were zero reports on child labor and online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, according to Belmomte.
"Ibig sabihin ba nito ay kaunti lang child related concerns sa lungsod? Tingin ko, hindi. Sa palagay ko marami pa rin sa atin lalo na mga kabataan ang hindi nakakaalam na meron palang Helpline 122 kung saan pwedeng magreport," she said.
Belmonte added that unclear data hinders understanding the reasons behind incidents like suicide. There is also a lack of clarity on the exact situation of abused children, children at risk, and children in conflict with the law, with discrepancies between police reports and other sources.
Quezon City's Unified Referral System aims to streamline reporting, monitoring, and tracking of gender-based violence. This system involves collaboration with barangays, schools, the Quezon City Anti-Drugs Abuse Advisory Council, Social Services and Development Department, and the ACPD to gather comprehensive youth data.
Belmonte shared that the Quezon City Unified Referral System was used to profile 10,000 child laborers and 2,000 rescued street children in Quezon City. A guidebook has been launched to help barangays understand the reporting process.
"Inaasahan nating hindi na madodoble ang bilang ng mga kaso at magkakaroon na tayo ng malinaw at konkretong datos tungkol sa lagay ng kabataan," she said.
The mayor also revealed an alarming rise in HIV-positive Quezon City youth, with 36 cases among those aged 15 to 19 from January to October. She highlighted the need to reevaluate the conservative approach to sex education and explore whether it truly helps, considering the rise despite free testing centers.
"Kailangan nating suriin nating mabuti kung nakakatulong ba ang pananantili nating konserbatibo at pag-iwas sa usaping sex education," she said.
"Bagama't di natin kinukunsinti ang premarital sex o maagang pakikipagtalik, panahon na para harapin natin ang realidad. Hindi ang pag-iwas o abstinence lamang ang tanging solusyon. Kailangan nating bigyan ng kaalaman at kagamitan ang mga kabataan upang mapanatili natin ang kanilang kalusugan at kaligtasan," she added.
With a budget allocation of P4.3 billion for youth projects and programs, P4.1 million has already been allocated, according to Belmonte.
Barangays Novaliches, Culiat, and Sauyo were recognized as the most child-friendly barangays in Quezon City.