“The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has always been steadfast in addressing child labor and its worst forms through a convergence strategy that brings the government’s child labor programs and services to the barangay level, the basic political structure, and to the family or household, the basic social unit in Philippine society.”
Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) OIC-Executive Director Mary Grace Riguer issued the statement during the forum held last September 30 at the Luxent Hotel as the group Human Rights Watch (HRW) presented their 2015 report “Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines.”
In the panel were Juliane Kippenberg, Associate Director of Children’s Rights, Carlos H. Conde, Philippine researcher for HRW, Anna Lea Escresa-Colina, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), and Dr. Elmer B. Billedo, OIC-Assistant Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Riguer highlighted the presence of DOLE through its various support programs and services such as the Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM), Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KaSaMa), Project Angel Tree, and complementary advocacy campaign, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities.
“As a core policy, we continue to give recognition to child labor-free establishments through our Incentivizing Compliance Program. We are also strengthening our Labor Laws Compliance System to expand its coverage. At the grassroots, we continue to work with the barangays to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.”
With respect to the HRW report, OIC-Exec. Director Riguer mentioned that five mining barangays in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte are already included as priorities for certification as child labor-free barangays. Livelihood programs are given to parents and educational assistance to children to achieve child labor-free barangays.
“I share the same objective and aspiration of the Human Rights Watch for informed policy and decision making through evidence and documentation, one of which is the ILS 2012 paper addressing the decent work concerns of small-scale mining.”
The Human Rights Watch is an organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. In its report are investigation findings in the Camarines Norte and Masbate provinces in Bicol region where they interviewed 65 child miners about their work in small-scale gold mines.
The group highlighted certain challenges that need to be addressed while acknowledging the government’s continuing efforts against child labor, and the DOLE’s willingness to work with HRW and other social partners in the anti-child labor campaign.
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