Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra (center, left photo) and OIC-Assistant Regional Director Atty. Anthony Wooden, Jr., (right photo), sign the Memorandum of Agreement before the physical participants
 
The Child Labor Prevention and Elimination (CLPEP) Team pose together with the physical attendees (left), while online participants join in via Zoom (right)

In its bid to strengthen and intensify the efforts in preventing and eliminating Child Labor in the Philippines, member-representatives from government agencies and the private sector sign the Regional Council Against Child Labor-Cordillera (RCACL-CAR) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last November 24, 2021 in a blended physical and online meeting at the Conference Room of the DOLE-CAR Regional Office.

The Agreement serves as an embodiment of the Constitutional declaration of the State in recognizing the vital role of the youth in nation-building and in promoting and protecting the youth’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social wellbeing.

Of similar note is Republic Act No. 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”, as amended by RA No. 9231, which declares it a policy of the State to provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development, which includes child labor in its worst forms.

The meeting hosted by the the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) Team was attended by representatives from the various line agencies and private entities in a blended and brief program which included a statistical update of child labor in the Philippines and in the region. To date, more than 3,500 profiled children from the Cordillera region are engaged in illegal child labor, and were referred to concerned institutions for appropriate assistance.

The activity featured a discussion of program interventions such as livelihood programs for the parents of child laborers (PCLs), child labor profiling and referral system, Project Angel Tree, Sagip-Batang Manggagawa, and Project SHIELD, among others.

Regional Director Nathaniel V. Lacambra, CESO III, noted in his opening message that while child labor is not a new issue on the country, the Department strongly advocates a “Child Labor-Free Philippines” through programs and activities which aims to remove the involvement of children in exploitative labor.

The MOA comprises each agency’s commitment to amplify efforts for the protection of the rights of vulnerable sectors, especially the children, strengthen related institutional mechanisms, and establish further measures that will contribute to the prevention, reduction and elimination of any form of child labor.

As such, the Department of Labor and Employment shall provide overall coordination of RCACL activities in the areas of policy, standards, program and strategy formulation and implementation, as well as program monitoring and evaluation.

The government has initially established the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) as a nationwide program for the prevention and elimination of child labor in the Philippines.  This program subsequently institutionalized the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), through a Memorandum of Agreement. The Memorandum dated 14 December 2011 was entered into between various government agencies and instrumentalities, containing relevant mandates to coordinate policies and inter-agency arrangements relative to the PPACL.

In line with the objectives under the Philippine Development Plan 2016-2022 of realizing the country’s vision of a “Child Labor-Free Philippines”, Executive Order 92, series of 2019 came about. EO 92 provides that the Council shall take the necessary measures to ensure implementation of the PPACL and all other related frameworks or the national action plans in all the geographic regions of the country, through the existing regional and local councils for the protection of children or related structures.

With the monumental signing of the RCACL MOA at the DOLE Cordillera, the guiding framework for closer coordination between government instrumentalities and private agencies became brighter for the youth.

 

END//Daryll Ponard