If there is one achievement that the DOLE wants the world to know in this year which is about to end, it is about the Philippines’ success in its fight against child labor.
“For three years in a row, the DOLE has led in helping the country achieve ‘significant advancement’ in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor,” said Baldoz in a press conference last week.
Baldoz said that on 30 September 2015, the United States Department of Labor, in its 2014 report on Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor cited the Philippines as having achieved ‘significant advancement’ in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, the third year in a row that the said report has cited and commended the Philippines.
This report of the US Department of Labor highlights assessment of government action to advance efforts in eliminating the worst forms of child labor. This year, according to Baldoz, the Department continued to make significant strides in the national anti-child labor campaign, especially in poor communities. The campaign is unique in that it is being waged alongside delivery of projects to combat poverty.
To back up the US DOL report, the labor and employment chief said that as of November 2015, the DOLE, through the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), has certified 106 barangays as child labor-free, bringing to 159 the number of certified barangays that are free of the menace since 2014.
“The campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays, a campaign initiated by Baldoz when she became labor and employment Secretary, aims to contribute to the vision of a Child Labor-Free Philippines through influencing change and obtaining commitment and support from various stakeholders to make barangays, the country’s basic political unit, free from child labor.
“The DOLE has always been steadfast in addressing child labor and its worst forms. Through a convergence strategy, the Child Labor Free Barangay campaign brings the government’s child labor programs and services to the barangay level and to the family or household which is the basic social unit in Philippine society,” she said.
She also bared 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 to 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,” Baldoz explained.
Also during the year, the DOLE provided 5,084 parents of child laborers with livelihood through the Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA). This came in the form of livestock raising, Negokart and business starter kits, materials for mat weaving and soap making, food vending or carinderia, and hair cutting and cosmetology sets.
Meanwhile, in 2015, another anti-child labor intervention, Project: Angel Tree, has granted the wish of 2,905 child laborers and children at-risk. Project: Angel Tree builds up of a network of patrons and supporters of NACLP—called “angels”—who pool or donate resources for child laborers’ education and other needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, mentoring, livelihood, school supplies, medical assistance and other work and training opportunities. The “angels” could be non-government organizations, private institutions, and other partner government agencies.
In 2015, the DOLE, through its Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams, conducted 10 rescue operations, one each in NCR, Regions IV-A, VII, XII, and six in Caraga. During the said rescue operations, the DOLE and members of the team removed or rescued 28 child labourers from hazardous activities, bringing to 3,431 the number of child laborers rescued since the inception of the program in 1993. These child laborers were mostly found working in KTV bars/night clubs.
The Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM) is an inter-agency quick action mechanism that responds—detecting, monitoring, and rescuing child labourers—to cases of child labor in extremely abject conditions. 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.
In the same year, five establishments found engaging six minors in prostitution were permanently closed and one establishment engaging 2 minors in hazardous work was temporarily closed by the DOLE in Caraga Region. This brings to 47 the number of establishments closed by the DOLE since Republic Act No. 9231 was enacted in 2003. A total of 178 children were removed from these 47 establishments.