“Natutuwa po ako na may resolusyon na ang Barangay Pulong Buhangin, na pinamumunuan ni Barangay Chairman Ricky Buenaventura, kung saan ipinapabatid sa tanggapan ng DOLE na ito ay Child Labor-Free,” said Baldoz.
Baldoz also commended the support of the Provincial Government of Bulacan, under the helm of Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, likewise the Municipal Government of Sta. Maria, led by Mayor Omeng Ramos, through their respective Provincial Committee on Child labor (PCCL) and Municipal Council for the protection of Children (MCPC).
Before, Pulong Buhangin was home to a number of child laborers working in the pyrotechnics industry, one of the industries which the province of Bulacan is known for.
But with perseverance and will, the local barangay, through the convergence of programs of the DOLE and other stakeholders from the national government agencies, non-government organizations, people’s organization and the private sector, were able to bring back 700 child laborers and children at risk to school, preventing them from entering the hazardous pyrotechnics industry, just to make both ends meet.
The partnership of the above-mentioned agencies also led to the provision of livelihood assistance to the parents of these child laborers to ensure that they will be able to finish their primary and secondary education.
Baldoz told parents of former child laborers present during the event that in Central Luzon, about 316,000 children were reported working in hazardous places, based on the 2011 Survey on Children, conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
The DOLE for its part is taking all possible measures and strategies in implementing the country’s national child labor program by involving all stakeholders and partner agencies, especially those from the grassroots-level.
“The Province of Bulacan is one of the priority areas of the DOLE’s strong Campaign for a Child Labor-Free Barangay because children belonging to the marginalized sector, are very much at risk in working in the pyrotechnics industry,” said Baldoz..
“I am happy that our local officials here in Pulong Buhangin, for the past eight (8) years, have continuously exerted efforts in providing various programs anchored from the National Child Labor Program. This only means that your families here are fortunate, regardless of whoever takes over the helm at the local government,” said added.
Baldoz also said that problem on the incidence of child labor in the country is currently being tackled in Cabinet Cluster Level.
“We’ve drafted a work and financial plan up to 2016 to ensure that the DOLE and other concerned agencies will be funded in order to fully implement and sustain the National Child Labor Program which is targeted to benefit 5-17 year old working minors,” she confidently said.
Baldoz said that developmental programs of its partner agencies such as the Department of Education’s (DepEds) Alternative Learning System (ALS) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will help transform the lives of child laborers and their families.
Meanwhile, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will be tapped to capacitate high school graduates, who wish to take technical and vocational courses, through their various skills training programs that will prepare them for tech-voch related jobs which will help improve their quality of life.
On the DOLE’s part, Baldoz said that the Department’s Integrated Livelihood Programs will provide opportunities to parents of child laborers/children-at-risk to venture into small but sustainable businesses like the Negosyo sa Kariton (Nego Kart) Project and Kabuhayan Starter KITS.
Baldoz also said that Pulong Buhangin should be given a “Child Labor Compliant Certification System,” similar to the DOLE’s Incentivizing Program for companies which are compliant with labor standards.
“It’s high time that we incentivize barangays with the best practices in implementing the child labor program. They should also be regular beneficiaries of the DOLE’s livelihood programs,” she said.
Baldoz ended her message by calling for cooperation and unity by working hand-in-hand towards a Child Labor-Free Philippines.
Other highlights of the event noteworthy to mention are (1) the signing of the Renewal of Commitment of all stakeholders to the child labor program, led by Baldoz and Governor Sy-Alvarado, (2) the distribution of DOLE Kabuhayan Starter KITS in Cosmetology and Foot Massage to 10 parents of former child laborers, who were initially provided training by the LGU PESO of Sta. Maria, and (3) the symbolic exchange of “tools of trade” for educational packages to former child laborers/children at risk, who are actually additional beneficiaries from the 300 children who were provided the same during the recent celebration of the World Day Against Child Labor last June 2012.
Aside from Baldoz and Governor Sy-Alvarado, other officials present during this momentous event are DOLE Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte, DOLE-3 Assistant Regional Director Geraldine Panlilio, DOLE-3 Technical Support and Services Division for Employment and Welfare head Nely Punzalan, DOLE Bulacan Field Office head Leilani Reynoso, Regional PESO Managers Federation Inc. President Manager Elizabeth Alonzo, Sta. Maria Mayor Omeng Ramos, Barangay Captain Ricky Buenaventura and other Kagawads.