September 27, 2023

The Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera is stepping up its involvement in cutting the “vicious cycle” of child labor in the region by focusing on the prevention of its causes.

Based on the 2020 data from Philippine Statistical Authority, the Cordillera has the lowest percentage of children involved in child labor at 1.2 percent out of 597,000 child labor cases in the country.

Child labor cases in the region has decreased from 41,000 in 2011 to at least 18,000 in 2021 based on a series of profiling DOLE conducted in the different provinces to assess their needs and provide appropriate interventions.

But the Special Release on Working Children Situation for 2019 to 2021 published by PSA in March this year, there were 1.37 million working children and 935,000 of them are engaged in child labor.

In a forum on June 8, DOLE Assistant Regional Director Emerito Narag said they observed the number of child labor cases in the region is increasing based on their profiling this year and most are in the agriculture sector where their involvement in the industry has been observed as a tradition.

He said this is why they continue to monitor these children and help their parents become responsible in providing for the family, instead of their children being the ones earning income for them.

In line with the country’s observance of the 2023 World Day Against Child Labor on June 12 with the theme “Makibahagi, makialam, makiisa para sa batang malaya”, Narag said they have lined up an information drive at SM City Baguio that includes orientation of parents on child labor through storytelling, video presentations, and talks on the risks, repercussions, and disadvantages of having their children work for a living instead of going to school.

DOLE also partners with the Department of Trade and Industry and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to provide livelihood to the parents, and private groups and non-government organizations to support and sustain the education of children through provision of school supplies and other needs.

This is aside from orientations DOLE conducts in the rural areas, where most parents are not aware of what child labor is.

Republic Act 9231, which amended RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, provides children below 15 years of age shall not be employed, except when under supervision of parents or legal guardian, provided the employment neither endangers their life, safety, health, and morals, nor impairs their normal development, among other conditions.

“The event is a chance for us to promote and raise awareness on child labor especially for parents. Instead of working, ang mga bata nasa eskwelahan dapat, nakikipaglaro sa kapwa nila bata. That’s why we encourage parents to venture into livelihood so that instead na ang mga bata, ang kanilang parents ang dapat magtrabaho and make sure their children are able to study and complete their education,” Narag said.

With the government’s continuous monitoring and intervention, Narag hopes parents would be enlightened and the vicious cycle of making children in a family carry the responsibi-lity one after the other would stop. 

May mga bata na when they work and earn, nagiging cycle na. We have observed that once a child experienced working, earn money, and able to help the family, the process continues and we can no longer encourage them back to school. When they have their own fa-   mily, ipapasa nila ang practice. Dapat ma-cut natin ang vicious cycle na ito,” he said.

In a release in April, DOLE Sec. Bienvenido Laguesma said under the Phi-lippine Development Plan 2023-2028, the target for the indicator in the number of child laborers in the country is zero. – Hanna C. Lacsamana