Last April 29, 2021, the Child Labour Platform, in partnership with the U.S Department of Labor and Levin Sources organized a webinar during the OECD Forum for Responsible Minerals Supply Chain on interventions addressing child labor in the country.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), represented by BWSC Director Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, was able to share the experiences and initiatives of the Philippines regarding the issue of child labor in artisanal and small-scale mining.
“Several initiatives were undertaken by the national government in partnership with the local government units and other stakeholders. First, the formalization of the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector through the People’s Small Scale Mining Program created through Republic Act No. 7076,” Atty. Trayvilla shared.
The creation of the People’s Small Scale Mining Program allows the government to regulate and monitor the small-scale mining industry with its compliance to general labor standards.
Miners were assisted to form small-scale miners’ association and to register with the DOLE to have legal personality. One of which is the Magkamatao Miners’ Association in Barangay Malaya, Labo, Camarines Sur.
Taking the Association as an example, Atty. Trayvilla emphasized the need for a whole-of-society approach in addressing child labor.
She discussed that among the key elements on the strategic plan for the development of the ASGM sector as formulated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with the help of the International Labour Organization (ILO), are addressing child labor and protection of workers.
“While this is happening on the ground, we also facilitated the updating of the statistics of child laborers. A rider module on child labor has been included by the Philippine Statistics Authority in their Labor Force Survey since 2017,” she said.
She added that it is imperative to create linkages and strengthen collaboration between national government agencies and other stakeholders, which was already recognized in the Philippines through Executive Order No. 92, s. 2019, Institutionalizing the National Council Against Child Labor to Upscale the Implementation of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor.
Through this effort, the Council has been localized in the regional and provincial level through the Regional Council Against Child Labor and Provincial Committee Against Child Labor, which are both chaired by the DOLE.
The ASGM sector is also included in the pilot implementation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions (SHIELD) against Child Labor Project.
Moreover, to locate and identify the children to be provided with services, the DOLE, DSWD, and ILO, conducted profiling on children engaged in mining.
“The DOLE provided livelihood assistance, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) provided skills training for the families of child laborers. Moreover, the Department of Education (DepEd) gave educational support and worked on the establishment of the Brgy. Malaya Integrated School,” Atty. Trayvilla added.
Through this approach, transformation is evident as seen in Brgy. Malaya, which helped the children return to their schooling, and parents of identified child laborers were able to finance their children’s education.
She further added, “Small-scale mining in Brgy. Malaya also shifted from using mercury to gravity concentration method to separate gold. Other safeguards have been implemented to protect the rivers and streams.”
Atty. Trayvilla has also taken the opportunity to surface the new DOLE and ILO project on improving the workers’ rights in the rural sectors of the Indo-Pacific, which will run until 2024.
The project builds on the good practices from the Caring Gold Project on labor inspection and occupational safety health, and aims to improve the working conditions, which includes addressing child labor.