Child labor, still an issue

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014


LAST year, a total of 264 children in Davao City were identified as child laborers based on the data of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO).

Under the law Republic Act 9231, also known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, child labor refers "to any work or economic activity performed by a child that subjects him or her to any form of exploitation or is harmful to his or her health and safety, or physical, mental or psychological development."

Though the number is less than a percent of the whole population of Davao City, the jobs of these children are no joke most of these children are into hazardous jobs.

Based on the data of CSSDO, occupations with the most child laborers are: quarrying (54), vendors (52), farm laborers (41), scavengers (38), and charcoal laborers (25). The data also showed that the children are working for six to ten hours per day.

Other occupations include: hand pedal motor (trisikad) driver, garbage collector, house helper, lumber yard laborer, vehicle washer, public utility jeep helper, harvest helper, construction worker, pump attendant, and miner of sand and gravel.

The data also showed that child laborers are predominantly boys at 187 compared to the 77 who are girls.

Most boys are quarriers (46), vendors (29), scavengers (24), charcoal laborers (22), and hand pedal motor (trisikad) drivers (18). The occupation that is only dominated by girls is farm laborer wherein there are 25 of them while there are only 16 boys.

Gina A. Molon, CSSDO Child Labor Program Focal Person, said the reason why most of the child laborers are male is basically rooted in our culture wherein the male should be able and know how to work already because they are and will become the padre de familia of the family thus the need for them to work.

"Also most of the occupation, like quarrying and construction, requires the strength of a male laborer," she said, adding that naturally boys are stronger compared to most girls.

In terms of geographic distribution, there are 122 in Marilog, 91 in Tugbok, 48 in Poblacion, two in Bunawan, and one in Talomo A. The barangays with the most child laborers are Tamugan proper (43), New Carmen (37), Malamba (29), 9-A (25), and Mintal (22).

Molon said the lives and the development of these children are in danger due to what they are doing.

For example children who are working as trisikad drivers are vulnerable to road accidents; the health of garbage collectors are in danger due to the garbage that they come contact with; and the development of farm laborers is impeded since they stop going to school to help in the farm.

"Most of the time they spend their time working instead of going to school to learn or socialize with other children," she said.

Molon said poverty is the main reason as to why children are being forced into child labor.

"Another reason is the lack of parenting capability. If only the parent is responsible enough, they will not allow their child to work," she said.

Molon said another reason why there are child laborers is the lack of information from the side of the parents.

She said some of the children's parents believe that child labor is permissible since according to some parents, in their time when they were young they are working already.

Molon said there is a need for the parents to know what the negative effects child labor has on their child's development.

In order to address and prevent child labor from happening, Molon said the agency is conducting information and education campaigns to parents in the city.

Molon said they capacitate the parents in terms of parenting capability.

"We give them capability building seminars for them to be oriented with the fact the child should not work at their young age," she said.

Molon said if the parents are not informed or educated, their children, in the future, might also do the same thing.

She said the city is doing its best to deliver services and rescue child laborers and protect children who are not yet child laborers.

The regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole 11) has also lined up programs to assist and rescue child laborers and protect children from becoming child laborers.

One of these is the Help Me Convergence Program wherein they have profiled and assisted 108 child laborers and children at risk. Under the program, parents of child laborers also received livelihood assistance.

Dole 11 is also campaigning for child-labor free barangays. Through the campaign, six barangays have passed child labor-free barangay resolution, namely: Barangay Pasig in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Barangays Parili and New Leyte in Maco, Compostela Valley, and Barangays New Carmen, MatinaPangi, and Toril Proper in Davao City.

Also through their campaign for child labor-free establishments, they have awarded five establishments in the region, namely: Hedcor Inc., HedcorSibulan, Inc., Nakayama Technology Corporation, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Plant, and Dole Philippines - Stanfilco Division.

In a regional scale, Dole 11 reported that there are 431 child laborers in Davao Region wherein Davao City has the highest with 332, Davao del Sur with 95, and Compostela Valley with four. There were none in Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental.

This according to the profiling done by Dole 11 on 28,000 vulnerable workers from 92 barangays in Davao Region from February 24, 2014 to April 30, 2014.

However, Dole 11 assistant regional director Venerando Cebrano pointed out that the data is just reported cases of child labor and has yet to be verified.

"Some of them might simply be child workers, which is different from child laborers," he said.

Molon said they have yet to consolidate their latest data for 2014.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 04, 2014.

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