THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has identified three areas in Eastern Visayas as priority in the elimination of child labor this year.
Dole-Tacloban Director Exequiel Sarcauga said that in addition to Northern Samar, Leyte and Tacloban City were also identified as priority where child labor is more prevalent.
These towns and Tacloban will be the pilot site for the four-year child labor elimination initiative that aims to save at least 75 percent of 213,000 workers in the region. At least 159,750 of them are engaged in hazardous work.
“In Tacloban City and (Western) Leyte, stakeholders are in the process of profiling child workers. The target is to launch the program between June and July, in time with the opening of the new school year,” Sarcauga said.
“Tacloban City is our new frontier against child labor. Before looking at concerns in other areas, we need to check the problem of child labor close to the regional office,” he added.
In Western Leyte, rescue of child laborers will be concentrated in several villages within the sugar cane farms of Kananga, Leyte and Ormoc City. Activities will be funded by the World Vision and the multi-sectoral district tripartite council.
“Many children in these areas are involved in sugar cane planting and harvesting, which deprives them the opportunity to go to school,” Sarcauga told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
In Tacloban City, the program will focus in three barangays within the city proper where many children work in seaport, hardware, stores, and other shops.
The labor department earlier identified 213 children in Mondragon, Northern Samar from hazardous work under a convergence program with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) said in its website that children in Northern Samar are often engaged in informal sales, recycling or garbage collecting, transport and domestic work. About 70 percent of child workers are not supervised by a parent or a guardian.
Based on the 2011 survey on children conducted by the National Statistics Office, there are 5.49 million working children nationwide. On this number, 2.99 million or 54.5 percent are reported to be exposed to hazardous child labor.
Nearly 45 percent or 2.46 million Filipino child workers are considered to be engaged in permissible work that is not classified as child labor, according to the survey. Of the total number of child laborers, 69.5 percent, or 2.10 million are attending school.
According to ILO, these Filipino children work in dangerous areas such as sex trade, sugar cane plantations, mining, and factories. It cited a widespread poverty that drove children to work as street vendors, helpers, farm workers, among others. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)