FOUR minors, aged 16 to 17, were rescued in Mandaue City last month by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) personnel.

The operation was done through the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) program and joint assessment (JA) under the Labor Laws Compliance System.

Two of the minors worked at a Japan-based trade center in Barangay Cabancalan while the others were employed at the construction site of a warehouse project in Barangay Labogon.

The teenagers worked as tool keepers and laborers, work that DOLE 7 Director Elias Cayanong as hazardous for children.

DOLE 7 coordinated with its counterpart in Negros to bring the two minors back to their hometowns in Mandapatan, La Libertad and Linantoyan, Negros Oriental. DOLE 7 also worked with DOLE 8 for the return of the third teenager to San Isidro, Leyte. DOLE Cebu Provincial Field Office handled the fourth minor, who is from Asturias, Cebu.

The employers of the minors would have to pay the workers an amount ranging from P10,000 to P26,000. They would also have to pay for the minors’ trip back home.

Through the coordination of DOLE 7, all minors were safely transported home.

“We have to rectify the issue immediately because the establishments where the child laborers worked are into businesses that are hazardous in nature. Absolutely, it is prohibited by law,” Cayanong said.

According to DOLE, any work or economic activity that subjects a minor (those under the age of 18) to any form of exploitation or work that is harmful to his or her safety, health, or development (physical, mental, or psychosocial) is classified as child labor.

This is further addressed by DOLE through the issuance of Department Order (DO) 159-A Series of 2017 early this year.

DO 159-A amends DO 149-16 on the Guidelines on Assessing and Determining Hazardous Work in the Employment of Persons Below 18 Years of age by broadening the scope of the ban of employment of minors and preventing young people from exposure to hazardous work conditions.

It also prohibits the employment of minors in agriculture and livestock farming.

“We are urging employers to refrain from employing children when they are engaged in a kind of business that jeopardizes their health, safety, and morals,” said Canayong. (TLN)