Department of Labor and Employment – Cordillera Administrative Region (DOLE-CAR), joins in the observance of World Day Against Child Labor 2021 (WDACL) through a live “Orientation/Reorientation on Child Labor Webinar”. The half-day webinar held last June 9, 2021, included guidelines, legal bases, interventions, programs, and updates in order to empower the more than eighty online participants in their respective provinces, workplaces, or communities in the detection and elimination of Child Labor (CL).

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III in his opening statement for the orientation emphasized the dire need of our country to combat Child Labor and its worst forms. He noted that the Labor Department extends its best effort while utilizing the whole-of-nation-approach in resolving the issue of child labor in the Philippines.

Thus, DOLE-CAR takes a step forward in its campaign to prevent and eliminate child labor by similarly raising awareness to the constituents and partners from the grass-roots level. Providing an orientation for both public and private agencies sets the directions for better coordination and actions.

DOLE Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) Labor and Employment Officer (LEO) III Ms. Dianne Lyneth C. Alavado started off the orientation with a refresher on what is child labor, its definition and legal basis. She emphasized on the identification of illegal child labor vis-à-vis legal child work.

“It is important to know that illegal child labor affects not only the physical but also the mental and emotional well-being of children,” Ms. Alavado noted. She mentioned that Illegal child labor is detrimental to the child’s dignity and education unless intervention is done.

Ms. Alavado stated that based on a special research conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, children engaged in agricultural industries tops the list for most child laborers-which is considered as one of the worst forms of child labor, similar to exploitation. Agricultural work refers to farming, fishing, animal raising and even mining.

Following the first presentation, DOLE-CAR Regional Community Facilitator (CF) Ms. Shyra Mae C. Acosta provided the figures of child labor in the Cordillera Region. Ms. Acosta presented the numerical data of profiled CL cases from each province from 2018 and their corresponding referrals.

As an iteration, the Cordillera Region has profiled 5,800 child laborers from 2018 to 2019, with an additional 1,057 profiled cases as of May, 2021. Baguio-Benguet had listed the highest case of CL throughout the Region, ever since the implementation of the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP). Referrals to appropriate Government agencies or private institutions were conducted within 60 days from the evaluation of the affected CLs.

CLPEP Regional Focal Alternate Mr. Daryl B. Ponard (LEO III/FNLI) talked about the programs and services of DOLE-CAR in response to child labor. Mr. Ponard gave a primer on Project Angel Tree, Livelihood assistance for the parents or guardians of CLs, Sagip Batang Manggagawa, and other similar activities.

Among the interventions offered by DOLE are: the Project Angel Tree which aims to deliver food, school, or health supplies from voluntary benefactors to CLs or their families. The livelihood assistance is a strategic response to prevent child labor under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (DILEEP) with the parents of the child laborers as primary beneficiaries, and the Sagip Batang Manggagawa which is a quick action mechanism in response to child labor in extremely abject conditions.

The DOLE-CAR Technical Services and Support Division (TSSD) CLPEP Team had a short open forum at the latter part of the orientation, to which the participants indicated their willingness to be trained further in order to combat child labor and its worst forms. The online participants also expressed their willingness to cooperate, contribute, and coordinate with appropriate government agencies to prevent and eliminate child labor in the Philippines. The TSSD CLPEP team also reminded line agencies to strengthen their tie-up through Memorandum of Agreements, or Joint Resolutions to eliminate CL in the Philippines.

Feedback from the online participants was mostly positive, citing that the orientation was helpful and informative. Majority of the participants stated the need to respond to child labor in all levels of the society and the even bigger need for the whole-of-nation approach to do so.

END//Daryll Ponard