These children aged 7-17 years old did not have the chance to experience the joy of childhood and even schooling as they need to work in order to help their family. Having the chance to talk casually to a 10-year old boy who was then cleaning a bus, he casually opened, “ Kinahanglan man magtrabahoparanaaymakaon, perountamakaskwela pod ko”, ( I need to work so that we have something to eat, but I wish I could also go to school).
The 20 children who are working at the IBT and exposed to hazardous forms of child labor were among the 41 children who received school supplies and other educational items from the Department of Labor and Employment RO-9 in connection with the DOLE’s campaign for a child labor-free barangay. The other 21 children aged 4-12 years old are at risk to be exposed to child labor as their parents are working 24 hours at the said terminal.
With the untiring support of Pagadian City’s Local Government Unit headed by Mayor Samuel Co, these children will be seen again not with their rugged old clothes and cleaning paraphernalia, but with a clean school uniforms, bags, writing materials, tumblers, and other school items as they will return to formal schooling and to alternative learning system (ALS).
During Sec. Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz’ visit in Pagadian City, shelauded, "I am happy to know that through the leadership of Mayor Co and Punong Barangay JoelitoVedra, the Barangay Council of Bulatok had passed a resolution adopting the DOLE's Child Labor Free Barangay Campaign. I am likewise glad the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children has its chairman the tireless Kagawad Bryan Paul Teves who is deeply committed to the anti-child labor crusade." KagawadTeves is a young barangay official who authored a resolution establishing a chapter of the ALS in Brgy. Bulatok, a resolution implementing an information dissemination system for R.A. 9231, or An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, and a resolution organizing a Youth Empowerment System that seeks to work with DOLE in implementing livelihood programs for the young people of the barangay.
Sec. Baldoz, Usec. Lourdes M. Trasmonte, Dir. NiconFameronag distributed livelihood packages to the parents of the child laborers and also witnessed the pledge made by the children to shun away from child labor. The parents likewise pledged to support their children as they prepare their future through formal education. The DOLE Regional Coordinating Council, DOLE Intermediaries, Government and private partners were also in full force during the said event supporting the entire family of DOLE ZamboangaPeninsula through the leadership of the Regional Director Sisinio B. Cano.
"We, ourselves, were children once. That's why we have the moral and intellectual duty of protecting the rights of our children," Mayor Co said, adding: "I deeply thank the DOLE and Secretary Baldoz for her commitment to improve the quality of life of our people. Let us stop child labor."
(Gay Iris T.S. Tangcalagan, LCO-Des. DOLE R09)