The World Vision Development Foundation, a non-government organization funded by the United States Department of Labor, conducted a 3-day consultation/ workshop held at Loiza’s Pavilion, Malaybalay City on March 25-27, 2015. Guided by the theme, “Capacity Building for the Local Council for the Protection of Children”, the activity was attended by selected members of the Municipal Council for the Protection and Welfare of Women and Children (MCPWWC) of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Maramag along with the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) of the three project beneficiary barangays of Panadtalan, Kuya and San Roque.
The intensive program, which serves as an input in drafting municipal ordinances on child labor and devising a functional child monitoring system, was administered by the said NGO for the benefit of the affected constituents of Maramag. This municipality is one of the forty four prioritized towns nationwide for the banner project, “Sugar is sweeter without child labor”, whose objectives are to provide direct assistance and educational support service to children working in sugarcane fields as well as to deliver sustainable livelihoods for their parents and families. Started in 2011, this endeavor is currently on its 4th and final year and shall conclude in September 2015.
The workshop included among its activities a review of the existing policies on child labor, determining gaps in these policies, coming up with a developmental plan on Child Labor Monitoring System (CLMS), developing data collection and tools and defining roles of LGU representatives in operating the CLMS.
The three barangays identified as key points in the discussion and workshop were selected because the rate of occurrence of children laboring in fields is more predominant.
The ABK3 LEAP or Pag-aaral ng Bata Para sa Kinabukasan 3 – Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection project defines child labor as any work performed by a child that subjects him or her to economic exploitation. The conditions occurring therein are more likely to be hazardous and usually interfere with the child’s education. It exposes the minor to harm with regards to health and disrupts the child’s mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
The NSO 2011 Survey on Children reported that there are 3.03 million Filipino children engaged in child labor with 2.99 million of them working in hazardous situations. Such situations include cuts and injuries from the use of sharp and/or pointed tools, falling from trucks during harvesting and hauling of produce like sugarcane for milling, exposure to extreme temperature, and injuries due to carrying extremely heavy loads. Aside from these, children endure long hours of work, most times with little or no food, suffer from burns and poisoning from handling insecticides or fertilizers and are exposed to snake and insect bites.
In the aforementioned activity, proposed projects were discussed, among them the formulation of a Citizen’s Charter for Children , which shall allow important access of children to different service providers in the community and the updating of the Children’s Code to incorporate additional and opportune laws and ordinances passed between the years 2007 to the present.
The workshop also succeeded at refreshing information on ABK3 LEAP and its mission to reduce child labor in sugarcane areas.
The realization of ABK3 LEAP’s goals are deemed to be achieved soon: a conducive social environment for children; child labor-free sugarcane fields in Barangays Kuya, Panadtalan and San Roque; and well-defined roles and activities between the LGU and DOLE.
By Rosalie B. Lacson, MPDO, LGU-Maramag (As posted in the LGU Bulletin Board on March 31, 2015)