DOLE 1 Regional Director Grace Ursua led the members of the Industrial Tripartite Council-Tobacco Industry (ITC-Tobacco) and DOLE staff in giving school supplies, food packs and toys to 100 children in San Juan and 100 more in San Emilio in the province of Ilocos Sur on December 9 and 10, respectively.
In San Juan, Ilocos Sur, additional 156 children received school supplies and toys; while 18 elementary school teachers got school supplies through the sponsorship of the Trans-Manila and Universal Leaf Philippines Inc., both members of the ITC-Tobacco.
Director Ursua said the gift-giving activities are part of project angel tree (PAT) which is one of the strategies employed by the labor agency to prevent or address child labor. The PAT addresses the different needs of child laborers and those at risk through interventions such as educational assistance, livelihood, medical assistance and other basic services made possible through sponsors called “angels”.
“Congratulations and thank you to the members of the ITC-Tobacco, specifically the Trans-Manila, Inc. Universal Leaf Philippines, Inc. and Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Inc., LGUs of San Emilio and San Juan and all DOLE staff who put this activity together to share joy to children and ensure that they are always away from the worst forms of child labor,” the regional director told.
She said that San Emilio and San Juan are among the areas covered in the Eliminating Child Labor in the Tobacco Industry (ECLTI), a project which was uniquely implemented in the region being an agricultural economy. The project was able to protect hundreds of children from the hazards of farming activities in tobacco planting areas, including redrying centers, through different services like educational assistance, livelihood assistance, advocacy activities and others. Aside from those mentioned, the towns of Pinili, Ilocos Norte, Balaon, La Union and Alcala, Pangasinan benefitted from the ECLTI.
“We have come a long way in our fight against the worst forms of child labor. Indeed, one of the most basic steps in achieving a child labor-free region or country is changing the behavior of people and communities toward the issue. They must first learn to acknowledge that child labor is not good for children so that they can become our partners in achieving our vision of child labor-free Philippines,” Director Ursua said.
A certificate of appreciation signed by Mayor Benjamin Sarmiento was handed to Director Ursua by the elementary teachers of Barbar and Camangaan in San Juan to show the local chief executive’s support and gratitude for the interventions provided by the DOLE- 1 in the said town.
San Emilio Vice-Mayor Cornelio Sibaen, on the other hand, thanked the DOLE-1 and its partners for bringing services to the people of the municipality and expressed confidence on a continuing partnership. – Arly Sta. Ana-Valdez
DOLE-Region Office No. 1