Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday commended the DOLE-National Capital Region headed by Regional Director Alex Avila for its serious and determined effort to stamp out child labor and human trafficking.
“I am pleased of the DOLE-NCR’s low-key but sustained action against child labor and human trafficking,” said Baldoz after Director Avila reported to her that the regional office had padlocked an establishment, Ivory Music Lounge and Restaurant on P. Burgos St., Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City for employing teenage girls as guest relations officers, or GROs.
According to Avila’s report, the decision to close the establishment stemmed from a petition for closure which the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of the National Bureau of Investigation filed with the regional office in September.
“The NBI sought the immediate and permanent closure of Ivory Music Lounge and Restaurant for violation of R.A. 7610, as amended by R.A. 9231,” said Avila. “I issued an Order for the Permanent Closure of Ivory on 2 November 2015 after due consideration,” he said.
Earlier, the agents of the NBI-AHTRAD conducted surveillance operations on the establishment which resulted to the rescue of the ten girls working as GROs. The NBI coordinated the rescue with the Department of Justice – Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking Operations (DOJ-IACAT), Department of Social Welfare and Development-NCR, and the DOLE-NCR.
Avila said that upon his issuance of the closure order, a team of DOLE-NCR personnel, headed by Assistant Regional Director Nelson C. Hornilla, successfully assisted in the confirmation of the establishment’s closure by a composite team of personnel from the NBI-AHTRAD headed by a Special Investigator Roy Rufino Sunega and the International Justice Mission (IJM) headed by Atty. Mary Catherine Noblejas-Garcia, Director for Legal Interventions.
He said that in the interest of due process, he had directed the management of the establishment and the NBI-AHTRAD to appear before the DOLE-NCR to present its own evidence and justify why closure is not the appropriate remedy and refute the petitioner’s claim.
For the complainant, Susan F. Miranda, accompanied by NBI-AHTRAD Senior Inspector David P. Golla IV, IJM’s Atty. Garcia, and Social Worker Dana Kris N. Alosado appeared before DOLE-NCR Mediator-Arbiter Atty. Cesar P. Petate, while for the respondent, Atty. Francesca Bautista appeared only to request that her client be given an extension in submitting evidence in support of their defense to which the complainant agreed.
“Ivory Music Lounge and Restaurant remains closed and cannot engage in business even as we continue with the process,” Avila said.
Baldoz said this latest action of the DOLE-NCR should serve as a warning to other business establishments employing child laborers.