Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday commended the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (RIACAT-XI) for its quick response to save minors allegedly working in a plastic pellet processing establishment in Baliok, Toril, Davao City.
Citing a report from DOLE Regional Office No. XI Assistant Regional Director Venerando C. Cebrano, Baldoz said that RIACAT-XI conducted the rescue operation at Pureway Enterprises after being informed by the Visayan Forum, a non-government organization, about minors working in the establishment.
In his report, Cebrano said the three rescued minors, aged 15 to 17 years old, were sorting and washing used plastic bags in the establishment owned by a certain Jeffrey Thomas Co, who was apprehended by the National Bureau of Investigation during the rescue.
"The nature of work of the minors exposed them to harsh and toxic chemicals," Cebrano reported.
The multi-agency rescuing team has found out that the workers in the said establishment are indigenous people coming from Bagobo and Matigsalog tribes in the Marilog Distrct of Davao City and from Bukidnon Province.
Director Cebrano said Jeffrey Co was formally filed criminal charges on 19 June.
Pureway Enterprises, on the other hand, has been charged with administrative charges for violations of R.A. 9231 (An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor); core labor and occupational safety and health standards, such as underpayment of wages and 13th month pay; as well as non-payment of holiday pay, service incentive leave, night shift differential, and rest day premium.
"The DSWD has taken custody of the rescued minors for rehabilitation and re-integration. It will, likewise, look into the situation of the minors' respective families," Cebrano said, adding:
"DOLE RO-XI, in coordination with the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will also provide livelihood assistance to the parents of the children."
Secretary Baldoz said the government's intensified campaign against child labor is in consonance with the Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016, a sectoral plan of the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.
The rescue operation was performed by the Multi-Agency Task Force of the RIACAT-XI composed of regional representatives of the Prosecutors Office, Department of Justice, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Davao City Social Services Development Office, Department of Health, NCIP, DOLE, and the Visayan Forum.