Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Thursday, October 15, 2015

DOLE Bicol, LGUs regard HRW report on child labor incidence "too much"; vow actions to address the issue

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 15 (PIA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol regional offices has considered the report on the child labor incidence by the international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) "too much" by regarded the same report to become basis for future interventions, along with the HRW, in addressing the child labor incidence in the region.

DOLE Bicol officer in charge Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, after personally conducting an immediate on-site validation and meeting with local chief execs of concerned areas, said the agency found the report on child labor incidence has some discripancies.

The verification results out in two days after the HRWO publicized its report on national media.and sentiments were shared by most of the local chief executives concerned in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Masbate.

DOLE Bicol was referring to the report of the international organization HRW citing that the government has not done enough to protect children from the hazards of child labor in small-scale gold mining and that the government has largely failed to implement laws against the worst forms of child labor.

The report “What... If Something Went Wrong: Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines” presented how thousands of Filipino children – some just nine years old – work in illegal small-scale gold mines and accused the government of failing to protect children digging and diving for gold in dangerous small-scale mines.

DOLE Bicol, according to Trayvilla, has deployed validation teams to coordinate with local governments in Jose Panganiban, Labo and Paracale in Camarines Norte  as well as in Aroroy, Masbate to conduct a similar on-site verification and profiling of the reported child laborers featured in the HRWO report.

Officials of DOLE Bicol and local governments concerned noted that the HRW may have 'rushed' in saying that "the government is failing to protect the children who dig and dive for gold".

They stressed that a number of ordinances in the provincial, municipal and barangay levels were passed and implemented, including initiatives with private organizations, prohibiting and protecting children from all sorts of child labor particularly on engaging in mining activities and banning the use of harmful substances such as mercury.

Trayvilla furthered that DOLE Bicol and local government concerned, especially in Camarines Norte and Masbate, have been waging relentless war against child labor which reached its peak in 2011 and personally by the DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.

Such initiatives have contributed greatly in lowering the incidence of child labor in the areas and these ‘incidences’ captured by the HRW now, may have been part of the new cases.

“We have already covered the major barangays in these municipalities. But DOLE Bicol recognizes this report on these barangays thus our immediate action to investigate and profile the alleged child laborers covered by said report” assured Trayvilla.

In Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, DOLE Bicol alone, has already released a total of P1.2 million livelihood project to 202 identified familiesof child laborers years back and is set anew to release this year, another P689,746000 for the DOLE Kabuhayan Starter Kits (DKSK) livelihood project to 102 identified families of child laborers and an expectedly higher amount for the "Bangkabuhayan" Project.

Also, a Municipal Child Labor Council (MCLC) has long been established by the local government and DOLE to prevent and protect children from mining and has laid down plans to implement long term solutions such as proposed amendment of Municipal Ordinance No. 030-2002 which bans the employment of children 15-years below in small scale mining and the proposed re-conversion of the 24-hectare mining site in Barangay Sta. Milagrosa to its former state as a fishpond. The pond shall be used for dispersing fingerlings which will serve as an alternative livelihood for miners and 5-hectares shall be reclaimed and converted to a "Pabahay" program.

The mining site in Barangay Sta. Milagrosa, by virtue of said municipal ordinance, was raided several times, confiscating compressors used in compressor mining and prohibiting "Pagkakabod". However, despite these interventions and massive efforts by the LGU and livelihood grants by DOLE Bicol, the prohibited mining still operates in the background.

In Malaya village in  Labo, Camarines Norte, the 11-year old minor alias "Anthony" featured by the HRW to have dropped out of school to engage in gold panning or "pagkakabod" was located and interviewed by DOLE Bicol.

"Anthony" said that contrary to the report, he is actually going to school and is only engaging in "pagkakabod" as some sort of 'apprenticeship' to his father during Saturdays or Sundays. It was in this instance that the HRW documentation happened thus capturing his actual "pagkakabod".

With the help of the Philippine Army, DOLE Bicol has started profiling the alleged actual child laborers in the area for the provision of an alternative livelihood to the parents. The municipal government of Labo has also deployed its personnel for the immediate response on the report of awful water condition on said area.

"Since the communities are more at ease with the army unit than us, we requested their help to pin-point the real number of alleged child laborers in Barangay Malaya and from there we will see what livelihood we can offer. However, let me reiterate, if the HRW can lend us their list, then it’ll be much easier and faster for us to make our intervention" Trayvilla said.

In Paracale, Camarines Norte, there have been major activities conducted by DOLE Bicol in partnership with the local government in support to its Municipal Ordinance such as the "Dikit Paalala Campaign" in resto bars and the launching of the Child Labor Free Barangays coupled by the release of a livelihood grant of P375,750.00 to 27 identified parents of child laborers.

A similar intervention was recorded by DOLE Bicol in Aroroy, Masbate wherein a total of P616,533.00 livelihood grant was released to 71 families in which said parents have fully embraced the idea of earning thru an alternative livelihood. A massive Barangay based information campaign on Republic act 9231 and 7610 is being regularly conducted.

"All these efforts are proof that DOLE Bicol together with its partner agencies and local government are serious in our campaign against Child Labor. The existence of "financiers" as confirmed by the HRWO report, and the lucrative offer of Gold Buyers make our job a lot harder really. But rest assured that we will not surrender or back out in our war against child labor." noted Trayvilla.

As of press time DOLE Bicol has already profiled 61 alleged child laborers featured by the HRW report in which 55 from Camarines Norte and six from Masbate.

 “We have been working even on weekends for this (profiling) in order to give the best possible alternative livelihood which is part of our strategy in combating child labor. These actions alone, plus the fact that we have already poured in millions of livelihood grants to these affected areas is a proof that the government is doing its best to battle this social menace,” Trayvilla added.

 DOLE Bicol stressed that in order to craft a better long term solution it may be best if the HRW, since it has already conducted an in-depth study of the areas thus gaining trust and access to vital information, could come out and sit with the DOLE and the local governments to plan and craft a better long term solution.

“I believe that we, including the HRW, have one goal in mind which is to eliminate child labor in these hazardous areas.” Trayvilla ended. (MAL/RPE-DOLE5/PIA5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/771444785790/dole-bicol-lgus-regard-hrw-report-on-child-labor-incidence-too-much-vow-actions-to-address-the-issue#sthash.3ZBdz0xk.dpuf

No comments:

Post a Comment