Ma. Teresa B. Tanquiamco (standing) of DOLE-7 facilitating the workshop on defining the roles of various agencies against child labor and CLT during the Capacity Building on Responding to Child Labor Trafficking held Feb. 19, 2020 at Citi Park Hotel, Cebu City. (PIA7)
CEBU CITY, Feb. 21 (PIA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Regional Child Labor Committee (RCLC) and World Vision gathered its agency partners and stakeholders for a Capacity Building on Responding to Child Labor Trafficking on Feb. 19-20, 2019 at the Citi Park Hotel, this city.
The activity aims to strengthen the committees of the Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Team Mechanism, increase the level of understanding of child labor trafficking (CLT) versus child labor, and define the roles and functions of each member in responding to CLT.
Participants are from different agencies and organizations that help in the campaign to end child labor and child labor trafficking.
Present were representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Nationa Police (PNP), Children's Legal Bureau, and Feed the Children Philippines.
The two-day capacity building was anchored on establishing the permanent members and alternatives of the RCLC with the goal of strengthening support mechanisms and solidifying inter-agency convergence programs towards the reduction of crimes against children.
"The capacity building is a call for the last two years and may our active participation make our children free from child labor," said Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, Regional State Prosecutor and Chair of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking-Anti Child Pornography-Violence Against Women and Children (IACAT 7-ACP-VAWC).
Is a child labor-free Philippines possible?
Executive Order No. 92 paved the way for the institutionalization of the efforts of the National Council Against Child Labor (NCLC).
This means that the council can now receive funding from donors and can now function as the regulatory board in addressing the implementation gaps. Based on the 2011 survey from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are 2.1 million children engaged in child labor.
The Philippine Program Against Child Labor and the National Child Labor Committee (PPACL), which was founded under the framework of NCLC, set the target of 560,000 children to be withdrawn from child labor by 2021, then 630,000 children by 2022, and one million children by 2025.
The same survey shows that the top reason for working among children aged five to 17 years old is to help in household-operated farms or businesses.
The top three child labor hotspots in the country are Regions 3, 5 and 10.
Currently, DOLE-7 has already profiled 20,544 child laborers. The profiling aims to assess the current condition of the children and respond to their needs.
The reactivation of the RCLC strengthens the collaboration of the agencies on how to respond to the profiled children.
Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM) is an inter-agency quick action mechanism that aims to respond to cases of child laborers in extremely abject conditions. It is responsible for detecting, monitoring and rescuing child laborers. This is composed of DOLE, DSWD, and other law enforcement agencies.
Philippine laws against child labor and CLT
There are several existing laws in the Philippines when it comes to combating child labor and CLT.
The current laws against child labor include Presidential Decree (PD) No. 603 or "The Child and Youth Welfare Code and Republic Act (RA) 7610 or "Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination as amended by RA 7658 and RA 9231.
RA 9208 or the "Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act" and RA 10364 or the "Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act" considers trafficked persons as victims and strengthens the existing mechanism in prosecuting offenders.
The minimum age of employment in the country is 15 years old.
However, the child should only work for a maximum of eight hours daily, 40 hours a week, and should not work from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
A child below 15 years old only becomes employable when working directly under the responsibility of his/her parents or legal guardian or when the child's participation in entertainment or information is necessary. Work permits should be obtained from DOLE. (POC/PIA7)