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Baldoz signs agreement with ABK3 LEAP implementers to combat child labor in sugar industry

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday inked an agreement with the implementers of the ABK3 LEAP Project to eliminate child labor in the sugar industry.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday inked an agreement with the implementers of the ABK3 LEAP Project to eliminate child labor in the sugar industry.

ABK3 LEAP stands for Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane. It is a four-year project funded by the United States Department of Labor and aims to contribute to the sustained reduction of child labor in sugarcane areas in the country.

World Vision Development Foundation, Inc., ChildFund Philippines, Inc., Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, Inc., and the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc. are the project's implementers and are collectively referred to as the ABK3 LEAP.

The signing of the memorandum of agreement between the ABK3 LEAP and the DOLE was held in a simple ceremony at the DOLE in Intramuros, with Elnora Bailen-Avarientos, executive director of World Vision Development Foundation, Inc.; Katherine K. Manik, national director of ChildFund Philippines, Inc.; Dolora H. Cardeno, executive director of the Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, Inc., and Edith Y. Villanueva, president and chief operating officer of the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc. signing for the ABK3 LEAP and Secretary Baldoz signing for the DOLE.

Chita DG Cilindro, director of the DOLE's Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns and Daphne G. Culanag, project director of ABK3 LEAP signed as witnesses.

In her remarks during the signing, Secretary Baldoz said the agreement upholds the DOLE's commitment to sustain its leading role in reducing child labor in the country through the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL), which lays down the strategic framework to eliminate all forms of child labor through prevention, protection, withdrawal, healing, and reintegration of child workers in the mainstream of Philippine society.

"We are focused on our vision of a child labor-free Philippines," she said, reiterating the government's commitment to ILO Convention 138 and 182 to reduce by 75 percent the worst forms of child labor in the country by 2015.

Under the agreement, both parties agree to the establishment of a functional multi-level information system, starting with the DOLE's Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System (CLKSS) to share knowledge and information on child labor, including updated and reliable databases documenting child labor in sugarcane areas, documentation of good practices, researches, and studies.

Both parties also agreed to work together to raise awareness and to mobilize actors at the local, regional, and national levels to reduce child labor in sugarcane areas through capacity building and strengthening policies.

"This includes establishing, mobilizing, and strengthening community-based structures, such as the local councils for the protection of children (LCPCs); community watch groups (CWGs); Child Labor Education task Forces (CLETFs); and children's associations in project sites," said Baldoz.

Other cooperative undertakings under the agreement includes improving the access to quality and integrated services and planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

Specifically, the ABK3 LEAP commits to provide access to relevant education programs for children in target areas, improve and expand education facilities and reduce barriers to attending formal school, and strengthen and expand alternative learning opportunities for targeted children. It also commits to provide support to the DOLE's Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA) Project in terms of social preparation activities for families of children in sugarcane plantation, preparation of project proposals, and linking beneficiaries to other DOLE programs and services, such as the Special Program for the Employment of Students, Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the sugar industry, and the Integrated Services for Migratory Sugar Workers (I-SERVE SACADAS) Project in Regions 5, 6, and 7.

"The ABK3 LEAP and the DOLE believe that the reduction of the worst forms of child labor, including child labor in sugarcane, requires a vigorous multi-sectoral action engaging not only the government, but also non-government organizations, sugar planters, millers, traders, sugar farm workers, and other sugar industry stakeholders," Baldoz said.

Source: Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns

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