Malungon, Sarangani Province - Department of Labor and Employment XII Saranggani Field Office (DOLE XII- Sargen FO) , together with the Public and Employment Service Office (PESO- Malungon), conducted an orientation to identified child laborers and their parents of Malungon , on R.A. 9231 or an Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger protection for the Working Child ,and DOLE Kabuhayan Starter Kit Program, last April 8,2013.
The orientation is in support to the Convergence Program of DOLE and DSWD called H.E.L.P.M.E.”, which stands for health, education, livelihood, and prevention, protection, and prosecution, while M.E. stands for monitoring and evaluation.
H.E.L.P.M.E. is a community-based approach strategy, enjoining other agencies to combat child labor and has a proposed budget of P9 billion to be implemented in four years, from 2013 to 2016.
According to DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis- Baldoz , the program will contribute to the realization of the country's ultimate Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty through decent work.
The incidents of child labor in Malungon ,Saranggani Province area, were identified through the regular TV program of ABS-CBN Gensan: TV Patrol Soccssargen. The program showed footages of child labor cases , working in the sugar cane plantation at SitioKityanGamay.
There were more than one hundred child laborers identified in the area working as harvesters (mananabas) during harvest timeand grass cutters/removers (hornal) during planting and growing period.
The child laborers were between the ages six to fourteen years old . Some were enrolled at JWB Adoracion Elementary School, while others cannot afford to go to school for reason of poverty.
They work on non-school hours and days, but they also spend time working during school days especially on harvest season and only paid by-piece of output and received as low as P2.00 per 20 pieces/sticks of sugar cane (tubu).
The profiling of child laborers was simultaneously done throughout the orientation, with the assistance of the PESO staff. Sixty (60) child laborers were identified and interviewed. The PESO manager committed to extend their profiling services through their SPES beneficiaries to reach those who have not attended the activity.
To strengthen the program, DOLE presented the result of the profiling to the barangay hall with the BCPC and their social workers for support.
With the positive response and support of the Local Government Unit of Malungon, making a difference to the lives of these child laborers may not be far from reality.(from the reports of Techie M. Alim/ Patricio L. Blanza of DOLE XII-SarGen FO).