Activate Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams vs. cyber child pornography, Baldoz orders DOLE regions

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday  directed all DOLE regional directors to intensify monitoring of cyber child pornography in their regions and to be ready to mobilize their respective Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams, or SBMQAT, at the first sign of the menace, and rescue  children who are its victims.

“Cyber child pornography is a form of hazardous child labor. Children should always be under a safe, protective, and caring environment. Sometimes, parents themselves are usually the ones who put their children to work in this kind of hazardous environment. If parents or guardians fail to protect their children, then, the DOLE needs to step in and intervene for these minors,” said Baldoz.

Baldoz clarified that the government is there to ensure that children are free from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination, or any condition detrimental to their development.

Launched in 1993, the Sagip Batang Manggagawa is a DOLE advocacy program, part of the national strategy to reduce the number of child workers, especially those in hazardous work. It involves the creation of inter-agency Quick Action Teams that respond to cases against child laborers in extremely hopeless conditions. The teams’ tasks are to detect, monitor, and take action against incidence of the most hazardous forms of child labor, of which cyber child pornography is one.

Over the years, the Sagip Batang Mangagawa has responded to cases of child labor in extremely abject conditions, such as bonded/slave labor, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking for  illegal employment, and hazardous work and activities.
Baldoz said children fall easy prey to exploitative child labor and hazardous types of work because of ignorance and poverty, which force them to work to contribute family income.

“This is why we advocate that children stay in school for them to get educated and where they can do wholesome activities, even play,” she said.

She explained that the efforts of the SBMQAT do not end at rescue and closure operations. As part of the inter-agency effort, the DSWD provides aftercare assistance to rescued minors, while the Department of Justice is responsible for filing and prosecuting criminal charges. The DOLE handles administrative cases and leads the teams, working with the DSWD, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, local government units, and non-government organizations in raids of suspected child labor lairs.

The DOLE also provides parents of rescued minors with livelihood assistance and skills training so they can start earning for their family.

“Providing parents with the means to support the needs of their children is one of the viable solutions the DOLE considers in its effort to keep these kids off the bait and hook of criminal child labor perpetrators,” she said.

The livelihood assistance and skills training for parents of child laborers is under the H.E.L.P. M. E. convergence program. H.E.L.P. stands for health, education, livelihood, and prevention, protection, and prosecution, while M.E. stands for monitoring and evaluation.

The convergence program, conceived by the Cabinet’s Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster upon the instruction of President Benigno S. Aquino III for a deliberate, harmonized, and convergent approach in addressing the problem of child labor in the country, seeks to free at least 75 percent of the 2.9 million child laborers in the country by 2016.

The DOLE and DSWD lead in the implementation of H.E.L.P. M.E., which uses convergence strategies to free identified barangays from child labor and to influence change, identify allies, and solicit commitments of support of stakeholders, specifically government agencies, non-government and faith-based organizations, local chief executives, private sector establishments, and the parents of child laborers themselves.


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