Mayor Tuason, the chiefs of the city's five barangays identified with high incidence of child labor, namely, Barangays Bagumbayan, Nursery, Bapor, Tugbo, and Pating, Masbate City school principals and teachers, the Masbate City chief of police, representative of the AKO Bikol Partylist, and private sector partners, namely, ABS-CBN Bantay Bata 163 and Filminera Resources, joined Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, DOLE Undersecretary Lourdes M. Trasmonte, DOLE Regional Office No. 5 Director Nathaniel Lacambra, and program and local coordinators of the International Labor Organization in the launching of the DOLE's Campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays, held at the Dona Maria Auditorium, Jose Zurbito Sr. Elementary School, Masbate City.
"We thank Secretary Baldoz for the numerous programs and services of the DOLE that benefits our people in Masbate City. We promise that we will actively support the DOLE's child labor-free barangay campaign here in our city by making sure that our children remain in school," said Mayor Tuason in his welcome remarks during the launching, which was also attended by some of the identified child laborers and their parents from the five barangays.
"As a barangay captain, I pledge my commitment to do everything in my power and ability to provide for the needs of my constituents so they will be able to keep their children in school, and not send them to work," said Punong Barangay Amy Valencia of Brgy. Tugbo, who spoke on behalf of the barangay chiefs.
One of the highlights of the launching was the signing by the stakeholders of a Commitment to Action for Child Labor-Free Barangays in Masbate, a document which details the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders in the implementation of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL).
With their principals and teachers, the child laborers also pledged to continue their schooling, while the parents, joined by DOLE officials, pledged to support the education of the children who, the DOLE has documented, were mostly engaged in street vending, portering, garbage collecting, and household work.
Baldoz, Mayor Tuason, and the other city and DOLE officials also distributed educational supplies and medicines to 43 child laborers, donated by Filminera Resources Corporation and the ABS- CBN Bantay Bata 163.
And to enable the parents of the child laborers to earn extra income so that they will no longer require their children to work, Secretary Baldoz led the DOLE and its partners in distributing DOLE Kabuhayan sa Kariton (DKSK) livelihood assistance packages to the 24 parents.
The packages of livelihood assistance, valued at P231,966.50, consisted of inputs for food vending or carenderia operation, barber shop, scrap buying, manicure and pedicure, carpentry tools, and small-scale goldsmith business.
The AKO Bikol Partylist had converged with the DOLE in assisting the parents and distributed P1,000 in cash assistance to each of the 24 parents who may use the amount as additional capital. It also pledged a scholarship grant for technical-vocational course for one child per family.
"The amount of livelihood assistance that we provide the parents of child laborers may not be much, but it is a meaningful start, for we want not only our local officials, but also the parents and other partners in the community to join hands with us in fighting the child labor menace," said Baldoz.
Barangays Bagumbayan, Nursery, Bapor, Tugbo, and Pating, all in Masbate City, are among the 89 barangays nationwide initially listed in the DOLE's Campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays for 2012.
These 89 barangays are the focus of the DOLE's anti-child labor efforts through convergence with other government agencies, particularly barangay officials and other sectoral partners in the community.
Some of the barangays in the 89 target barangays are already covered by other anti-child labor inititiatives, such as World Vision's ABK3-LEAP, or Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane, a four-year project funded by the United States' Department of Labor which aims to contribute to the sustained reduction of child labor in sugarcane areas in the country, and the ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC).