"The first step in eliminating the incidence of child labor is to recognize that child labor exists in the community."
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz emphasized this yesterday as she enumerated the operational strategies which barangay chief executives can employ to transform their barangays into child labor-free barangays.
According to Baldoz, the strategies are specifically primed for the successful implementation of the DOLE's Campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays (CFCLFBs) and its activities, such as the rescue of child laborers; education on child labor; and support to families of child laborers.
"These strategies are aimed to sensitize public opinion and mobilize public support for the Philippine Program Against Child Labor," Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief, citing the report of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), an attached agency of DOLE which oversees the implementation of the CFCLFBs, said the first strategy calls for raising the awareness of the community through close coordinative work with the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC); community leaders; parent groups; youth groups; barangay health workers and other service providers; teachers and school officials; homeowners associations; employers; interest groups; and other residents of the barangay.
“The problem of child labor could not be addressed by only one sector. Building a broad coalition among the various key players in the local community is a major key to success,” Baldoz said.
“If people in the community are convinced that child labor is an issue the community needs to act on, they can be relied upon to cooperate in identifying workplaces where children are engaged in, and they themselves would readily report violations,” she added.
Under the first strategy, popular support must be succeeded by a development plan, or a barangay ordinance or resolution which must contain specific actions to eliminate child labor in the community. These documents must have a series of short, medium, and long-term steps that should be undertaken within a given time frame.
The second strategy requires removal of children in hazardous work situation, strengthened labor inspection, and active participation of community watch groups.
“The DOLE Regional Offices are working closely with community leaders, law enforcement authorities, and local social welfare development offices to immediately respond in cases where there is a need to rescue child laborers,” said Baldoz, adding:
“Our labor inspectors undergo continuous capability upgrading. This enables them to effectively detect and deal with the most serious cases of child labor.”
Community action must also be sustained through training in order to identify children engaged in hazardous work and those in the worst forms of child labor and to report violating employers. Retired professionals residing in the community may also be mobilized to act as child labor monitors.
News Release 489-2012
“While the first and second strategies can properly be implemented in succession, the third and fourth strategies work well simultaneously. Education and support to families of child laborers are the right responses to prevent child labor,” Baldoz said.
She added that without education and a stable family income, children will still be compelled to work as long as their families depend on their income to survive. The cycle will remain; producing successive generations of adults who, having worked when they were children themselves, submit their own children to the same life pattern.
To properly carry out the third and fourth strategies, Baldoz said social partners must be tapped to provide regular educational assistance, as well as training for income-generating activities, and access to livelihood assistance.
For its part, the DOLE, through its Regional Offices, prioritizes the parents of child laborers in the target communities for the award of DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program grants, which include the Kabuhayan Para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KaSaMa) Project.
The KaSaMa Project is implemented in partnership with its accredited co-partners. Primary target beneficiaries are parents/guardians or elder brothers/sisters of child laborers who are of employable age. Beneficiaries should participate in group activities including social preparation, training, and actual project implementation. They shall express their willingness to remove or not engage their children or younger siblings in hazardous or exploitative labor.
“Eliminating child labor is possible and affordable, if the world wills it and fights for it. It is primarily a matter of changing attitudes,” Baldoz said.
The renewed urgency to tackle child labor and its worst forms is part of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s 22-point labor and employment agenda and the Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016 which call for the pursuit, apprehension, and prosecution of those engaged in illegal and predatory activities, especially traffickers that target women and children.