DOLE wants Region 12 to be free from child labor in 2 years

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 July) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 is pushing for declaration within the next two years of 52 barangays in the region as child labor-free.

Ofelia Domingo, DOLE Region 12 director, said Thursday they have expanded their interventions in various barangays in the region that were earlier found with high cases of child labor.

She said the initiative focuses on the implementation of family welfare programs as well as the provision of livelihood projects to families of documented child laborers.

Of the 52 barangays that were identified to have child labor cases, she said two have already reached the third level in terms of classification or close to the child-labor free status while the rest are in the first and second levels.

Domingo said the barangays that already reached the third level are Kematu in T’boli, South Cotabato and Bula in this city.

Level 3, which are dubbed the “low-hanging fruits,” are barangays where child labor issues have been addressed, various stakeholders have been mobilized for advocacy and service delivery, local institutions have been established, and partnerships among stakeholders have been forged.

Level 1 or the “new frontier” are barangays that have child laborers in hazardous situation, but where initiatives have not yet been undertaken.

Level 2 are barangays where there is presence of child laborers in hazardous situation and where interventions have been undertaken and are continuing.

“All these (52) barangays are currently receiving interventions that are geared to eventually make them child labor-free,” Domingo said in a statement.

Ahmma Charisma Lobrin-Satumba, chief of the DOLE central office’s Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, lauded DOLE-12’s continuing interventions in addressing the child labor problem in the region.

Satumba, who facilitated the conduct of the agency’s 2014 Mid-Year Performance Assessment, said they are specifically pleased with the increasing number of “low hanging” child labor-free barangays in the area.

“The country does not have a child labor-free barangay as of this time and with the region’s increasing number of low hanging barangays, we’re hoping that we could have one soon,” she said.

“I hope you can continue to focus on these barangays for more interventions,” Satumba said.