Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged the public to call the DOLE Call Center S.M.I.L.E. Hotline 527-8000 to report child labor concerns or child labor cases to help prevent and eradicate child labor in their barangays.
“Everybody must unite and be involved in the campaign against child labor to ensure the transformation of every barangay into child-labor free communities,” said Baldoz, adding that 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.
Baldoz, citing a report from OIC Director Gerry S. Rubio of the Labor Communications Office which supervises the DOLE Call Center, said that the DOLE Call Center S.M.I.L.E. received a total of 13 calls on child labor in February and March 2016.
The queries focused on children in mining; child labor work activities; child labor rescue process, or the Sagip Batang Mangagawa; difference between child work and child labor; and the process in obtaining child labor-free establishment certificates.The calls were mostly in the National Capital Region.
Baldoz added that the Department intensified its efforts against child labor through the Child Labor-Free Barangays which was launched in 2012 and is aimed at influencing change and obtaining commitment and support from various stakeholders to eradicate child labor in the barangays, the country’s basic political unit, free from child labor.
Secretary Baldoz also said that in 2015, DOLE Regional Offices have awarded Child Labor-Free Certificates to 58 establishments, bringing to 163 the number of establishments certified as child labor-free since 2013. The Child Labor-Free Establishment Certificate is conferred upon a company or establishment that is not employing child labor and not using products or materials produced through the use of child labor.
The grant of a Child Labor-Free Establishment Certificate aims to promote compliant and socially-responsible business practices.
Sagip Batang Manggagawa, on the other hand, is a DOLE advocacy program, which was launched in 1993. It is a 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.
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.
The DOLE Call Center, known as SMILE for Serbisyong Magalang, Mahusay na Impormasyon sa Labor and Employment, is open on Mondays to Saturdays from 6:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. It has a complement of six composite staff from different DOLE Offices.