Fight vs. child labor on in Region 12

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 August)— The Department of Labor and Employment in Region 12 (DOLE-12) is trying to break the vicious cycle of rampant child labor in the mining industry, especially in small-scale operations, a top official said.

Ma. Gloria A. Tango, DOLE-12 regional director, said they recently conducted a stakeholders’ forum to address the child labor issue in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Education.

Child labor has been confirmed in T’boli, a gold rush town in South Cotabato since the 1980s.

“The root cause of child labor in our jurisdiction is poverty. The parents of the children working in the mines site have insufficient income [to raise the family],” Tango said.

“This vicious cycle of child labor must be broken so they’ll have a better future,” she added, noting that children as young as 10 years old have been found to be working at the mine site in T’boli as ore porters.

She said that if the issue of child labor can’t be solved, it will be a recurring problem with the next generation of children also becoming child laborers.

Tango said they will be conducting workshops, involving other concerned government agencies, to determine the programs that will address the child labor problem.

More importantly, we’ll involve the working children as well as their parents in these workshops, she added.

Tango said the physical and mental well-being of children working in the mining sector is affected because they are usually exposed to hard labor.

The local government unit of T’boli has assured support to curb child labor in the locality, the official said.

The town hosts the T’boli gold-silver project of Canadian firm Cadan Resources Corp, involving 84.20 hectares under Mineral Production Sharing Agreement 090-97-XI.

The MPSA was granted in November 1997 to local mining firm Tribal Mining Corp.

The MPSA area, however, straddles the “minahang bayan” or small-scale mining area, covering 21 hectares, that was declared over a decade ago by the provincial government of South Cotabato.

Tango said the mining company also pledged to help curb the problem of child labor in the area.

However, Tango failed to provide the actual number of child laborers in the small-scale mining sector in T’boli town.

Aside from the mining industry, she said they are looking at the agriculture sector in the region, which is also prone to child labor practices.

Tango said they have been instructed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to closely monitor the child labor issue, and to look for solutions. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)