Bukidnon to set up Provincial Child Labor Committee

VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/23 Sept) —  Bukidnon is  planning to set up a provincial child labor committee to fight child labor, Arsenio Alagenio, provincial social welfare and development (PSWD) officer, said.

Governor Alex Calingasan tasked Alagenio to lead provincial government officials in a multi-sectoral forum the International Labor Organization organized here recently.

He said the committee will be under the existing Provincial Child Welfare Council.

In 2002, the Bukidnon Provincial Board passed Ordinance No. 2002-011R (8th SP) or the “Ordinance Providing for Child Survival, Development, Protections, and Participation, and Establishing a Comprehensive Children Support System in the Province of Bukidnon.”

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Manila office recently identified the province as having a  high prevalence of child labor.

One of five children between the ages five and 14 or 67,000 children in Bukidnon are considered by the ILO as child laborers, according to Jesus Macasil, a Manila-based ILO senior programme officer.

He said 9.3 percent of the figure or about 6,231 children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, based on figures cited by Unicef’s Country Program for Children (CPC 6) indicators report in 2007.

Macasil presided over discussions in Bukidnon from September 14 to 16 on the inclusion of the province in ILO’s “International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour.

Bukidnon is among four provinces in the country where the ILO is setting up a continuing program to look into the plight of thousands of child laborers, according to the ILO website.

Aside from Bukidnon, the ILO is implementing the second phase of the same program in Northern Samar, Masbate and Quezon.

The four provinces were chosen based on the 2001 child labor survey and other data like dropout rate, poverty incidence, number of poor families and results of a survey on population and family income, Macasil said in a report posted on the ILO website.

Philippine Labor laws define child labor as existent when work burdens the child or the work is too heavy for child’s age and capabilities. Also, it is child labor when a child works supervised by abusive adults. Other criteria includes very long hours of work, work places that pose hazards to child’s health and life, child subjected to psychological, verbal, physical, and or sexual abuse

It is also child labor when a child is forced to work.

Macasil also cited poverty and education figures as among those used in determining the province’s inclusion to the project.

He told MindaNews that Bukidnon’s predominantly agricultural economy makes it susceptible to child labor employment.

Alagenio told MindaNews they have drafted an executive order for Calingasan to sign. But the PSWDO added the draft is still with the Provincial Legal Office for review.

The child labor committee, if approved, will take charge of collecting, consolidating, and validating data on all forms of child labor for use of the national and local governments.

Its functions include serving as a consultative body to convene regularly to discuss issues and concerns on child labor to be passed on to government agencies. It can also recommend policies and program on child labor. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)