In his first visit to Pagadian City where she drummed up public awareness on the DOLE's Child Labor Free Barangay Campaign to elicit support for the same, Baldoz noted how the city government, led by Mayor Sammy Co, had partnered with the DOLE and other government agencies in removing children from work in the city's bus terminal and returned them to the formal schooling and to alternative learning systems (ALS).
"Pagadian City's very strong support to the national government efforts to eliminate child labor is admirable. This really validates our strategy that the fight against child labor can only succeed if local government units, particularly the barangays, are involved and engaged," Baldoz said upon learning that the city, in cooperation with the DOLE Regional Office No. 9, had "emancipated" 41 children--20 of them working at the Pagadian Integrated Bus Terminal, while the remaining 21 were children at risk--from Barangay Bulatok, one of the five identified barangays in the DOLE's campaign.
"I am happy to know that through the leadership of Mayor Co and Punong Barangay Joelito Vedra, the Barangay Council of Bulatok had passed a resolution adopting the DOLE's Child Labor Free Barangay Campaign. I am likewise glad the barangay's Council for the Protection of Children has for its chairman the tireless Kagawad Bryan Paul Teves who is deeply committed to the anti-child labor crusade," said Baldoz.
She commended the young barangay official who had also 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 the DOLE in implementing livelihood programs for the young people of the barangay.
"We need more barangay officials like Kagawad Bryan Teves," she said.
Baldoz made the remarks at the launching of the DOLE campaign at the Springland Resort in Pagadian City where she, together with Mayor Co, DOLE Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte, Regional Director Sisinio Cano, and Asst. Regional Director Virginia Bonbon, witnessed the child laborers of Brgy. Bulatok make the pledge to shun away from child labor and to remain in school, as well as their parents, who pledged to support their education.
Welcoming Secretary Baldoz to Pagadian City, Mayor Co said he is deeply honored by the visit of the labor and employment chief and touched by her concern for child laborers and their parents.
"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."
Joining Baldoz and Mayor Co were the various representatives of the partners of the DOLE and Pagadian City LGU in the campaign, notably the Departments of Education, Interior and Local Government, and Social Welfare and Development; Pagadian City's Association of Barangay Chairmen; National Youth Commission; Rural Transit Mindanao; Philippine Information Agency; Women Widow Apostolate of Pagadian City MPC; Pagadian Integrated Bus Terminal; Public Employment Service Office; Pagadian City Chamber Federation; PESO Federation; Occupational Safety and Health Network; Guidance Counselors' Network Zamboanga Peninsula; and Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.
The DOLE family of agencies were in full force during the launching, led by Atty. Senando Esteban of the Professional Regulation Commission; Director Marjuc Jumrani of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board; Director Lorenzo Macapili of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; Rowena Decaraya of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board; and Director Hasan Jumdain of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
During the launch, Baldoz distributed livelihood packages worth P200,000 to 20 parents of child laborers from Barangay Bulatoc. She also handed out checks for the Special Program for the Employment of Students and a P200,000-check representing a DOLE grant for the nursery project of 84 farmer-parents of child laborers from Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.
Baldoz later visited the Pagadian Integrated Bust Terminal, Barangay Bulatok and the Department of Education's Alternative Learning System, and the DOLE-assisted Internet business of the multi-awarded Springland Young Workers Association.