February 6, 2023

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction industry in the Cordillera and the rest of the country was growing at a robust pace due to infrastructure investment and the launch of the Philippine Construction Industry Roadmap 2020-2030.
But with the government announcing measures to slow the spread of the virus, construction projects also slowed down.
In May 2020, the government has started to partially ease restrictions. All public and private construction projects were allowed to resume in areas under general community quarantine, while only select projects were allowed in areas under enhanced community quarantine. All major infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program were allowed to resume.
Krisanto, 16 years old, and his friends Carlos and Alex, both 17 years old, work from early morning until sundown in a construction site. As laborers and helpers their typical jobs are cleaning and preparing construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards; load or unload building materials to be used in construction; and build or take apart braces, scaffolding, and temporary structures.
Krisanto, Carlos, and Alex represent thousands of child workers in the country who quit school to work full time to support their families especially during this pandemic.They are very profitable assets since their pay is very low and are easy to be manipulated.
The Labor Code says no child below 15 years of age shall be employed, except when he works directly under the sole responsibility of his parents or guardian, and his employment does not in any way interfere with his schooling.
Any person between 15 and 18 years of age may be employed for a certain number of hours and such periods of the day as determined by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in appropriate regulations.
The law also states while it allows employment of minors under certain conditions, it still does not allow employment of a person below 18 years old in an undertaking which is hazardous.
Republic Act 9231 also provides special protection of children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms. The law provides for minimum employable age, hours of work of a working child, prohibition on the engagement of children in worst forms of child labor, and administrative and criminal penalties for violations.
The Department of Labor and Employment will fully implement the Kabuhayan para sa magulang ng batang manggagawa (Kasama) which aims to contribute to the prevention and elimination of child labor by providing families of child laborers access to decent livelihood opportunities for enhanced income.
The program is given a 10 percent allocation from the total DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program and Emergency Employment Programs budget.
It is anchored on the Philippine Program Against Child Labor Framework and is implemented through DOLE’s accredited co-partners which are responsible for the direct delivery of services to the beneficiaries.
Target beneficiaries of Kasama are parents or guardians of child laborers, elder brothers or sisters of child laborers who are of employable age. The beneficiaries commit to participate in group activities including social preparation, trainings and actual project implementation, and should be willing to remove their children in hazardous or exploitative labor.
Kasama has been implemented to enhance livelihood undertaking of informal sector workers toward the creation of sustainable or viable businesses that will provide decent income for their families.
For more information on the Kasama program, visit www.dole.gov.ph or www.car.dole.gov.ph.