GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 December) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 has declared 12 barangays in the region as child labor-free.
Ofelia Domingo, DOLE Region 12 director, said they issued the declaration based on the results of the agency’s comprehensive assessment on the prevailing child labor situation in various barangays in the region.
She said the 12 barangays specifically posted zero rates or clean records in terms of the presence of child laborers.
The declared child labor-free barangays are Poblacion and Rosary Heights 2 in Cotabato City; Poblacion and EJC Montilla in Tacurong City; Presbitero in Pigcawayan and Saguing in Makilala, North Cotabato; Poblacion in Malungon, Libi in Malapatan and Colon in Maasim, Sarangani; Bula and City Heights in this city; and Kematu in T’boli, South Cotabato.
DOLE-12 issued certificates of recognition to the 12 barangays on Monday in a simple ceremony held in Koronadal City.
“As of today, there are no more child laborers in these barangays and we have linked up with local stakeholders to ensure that this situation will be sustained on a long term basis,” Domingo said in a press conference.
The DOLE central office had set six indicators for the declaration of a barangay as child labor-free.
The concerned barangay should have no child below 15 years-old who are working, except for those exempted under the provisions of Republic Act 9231 or the Child Labor Law; no child 15-17 years old is engaged in the worst forms of child labor; all children of school-age are attending formal school or alternative learning sessions; parents have economic activity to support the needs of their children; presence of functional Barangay Council for the Protection of Children; and, implementation of local ordinances or resolutions to address child labor concerns.
Domingo said the declaration of the 12 barangays as child labor-free was an offshoot of the interventions implemented by the agency and its partners.
She said they specifically implemented family welfare programs as well as provided livelihood projects to families of documented child laborers in the 12 barangays.
The official said these initiatives were part of the memorandum of understanding that they separately signed these past years with the concerned barangays.
She said the interventions were supported by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the local government units.
DOLE-12 had enlisted a total of 52 barangays in various parts of the region for its Child Labor -Free Barangay Project.
Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Most of the identified barangays are currently within the first to third levels in terms of classification of their child labor status.
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 2 are barangays where there is presence of child laborers in hazardous situation and where interventions have been undertaken and are continuing.
Level 1 or the “new frontier” are barangays that have child laborers in hazardous situation, but where initiatives have not yet been undertaken.
“Our interventions are currently ongoing and we’re hoping to declare more child labor-free barangays next year,” Domingo added. (MindaNews)