Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz last week lauded the DOLE’s local and international social and tripartite partners for their continued and intensified efforts against child labor, saying their strong cooperation with the Philippines makes the war against the scourge of child labor “winnable”. At the same time, the labor and employment chief said the Philippines is on the right track in battling the menace.

Baldoz’s statement is contained in her message read on her behalf by DOLE Undersecretary for Social Protection Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III during the launch of the International Labor Organization’s newest campaign, the “Red Card to Child Labor”, or the Lakas-Sipa para sa Batang Malaya, a football clinic for former child laborers held at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill in Taguig City.

“The strong cooperation of our local and international social and tripartite partners against child labor makes the fight against child labor a truly global agenda. And as part of the international community, we are doing our best in this fight. We are on the right track,” said Baldoz who, as Secretary of Labor and Employment, has initiated the DOLE’s Child Labor-Free Barangay Project by ensuring that children remain in schools and by providing their parents alternative income-earning opportunities.

The campaign 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.
The ILO, which organized the launch and the football clinic had said that in football, the red card sanctions faults which are liable to exclusion from the field, saying that the ILO had decided to use the symbol of the red card to raise awareness in preventing, challenging, and eliminating child labour through advocacy campaigns.

During the event, 250 former child laborers were given the chance to learn and play football, with the brothers James and Phil Younghusband teaching the kids for free.

“Binabati ko ang ating mga social partners mula sa iba’t ibang ahensiya ng pamahalaan, mga non-government organizations, workers’ groups, employers’ organizations, at lokal na pamahalaan na nagpapatuloy at hindi bumibitiw sa pakikibaka laban sa child labor.  Ang inyoung pagpupursige at ang inyong suporta ang nagbibigay sa amin sa Kagawaran ng ibayong lakas upang mapanatili natin ang ating focus sa ating hangarin na matuldukan na ang child labor,”  said Baldoz.

Baldoz said the theme of the football clinic, Lakas-Sipa para sa Batang Malaya, is appropriate to describe the continuous efforts of the government in eradicating child labor, especially its worst forms.

“Ang mga batang nailigtas mula sa kuko ng mapanirang child labor ay binibigyan natin ng mga kaukulang serbisyo at tulong  tulad ng counseling, tulong para makabalik muli sa paaralan, skills training, at tulong upang sila ay makauwi sa kanilang mga pamilya,”  said Baldoz.

She cited the DOLE’s continuous efforts in providing various programs anchored on President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration’s convergence program, H.E.L.P. M.E. under which the DOLE and its partners and other stakeholders, especially the people in the community, seeks to curb child labor in the country.

H.E.L.P. M.E. is the acronym that stands for Health, Education and training, Livelihood, Protection and prevention, and Monitoring and Evaluation.

“The government, under President Aquino III’s leadership is very determined to lick the child labor program using this barangay-based approach strategy,” she said.

Last year, the DOLE has reached out to free from child labor 89 barangays, with Baldoz herself personally visiting 30 of these barangays in 15 regions from July to November. In these barangays, the DOLE, through its regional offices, benefited 4,863 child laborers and 1,849 parents with various converged programs and services.

“Ang tunay na batang malaya ay dapat natatamasa ang lahat ng karapatang pambata – nakakapag-aral, nakakapagpahinga, nakakapaglaro, ligtas sa kapahamakan,  at malusog.  Ang bata ay hindi dapat nauubos ang oras sa kalsada, sa mga tambakan, sa mga taniman o sa pagawaan.  Lahat tayo ay nagnanais na lahat ng bata ay may magandang kinabukasan–kinabukasang matiwasay, masagana at kapaki-pakinabang.
Child labor, as a serious offense, deprives children of the chance to play, to study and to live a life with dignity,” said  Baldoz.

End/ Let Maring

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