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The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) together with the World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. through their Project Against Child Exploitation (Project ACE) conducted the training for DOLE labor inspectors, focal persons for the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) and other stakeholders on Prevention, Detection, Case Handling, and Rescue of Victims of Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) in the Philippines on April 11 to 12, 2022.

Mr. Ajab-Aram Macapagat, Operations Director of the World Vision, addressed the more than 200 participants from eight regions to share his optimism in the conduct of the activity, which will increase their knowledge and capacity on reporting and handling of child exploitation. He added, “World Vision is one with the government in combatting child exploitation.”

DOLE Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresita Cucueco, the keynote speaker, emphasized the core responsibility of everyone to look over the children of the country and that the government has to ensure that the policies and programs in place are wide-ranging in eliminating child labor in the Philippines.

“We have to ensure that policies on child labor are comprehensive and collaborative, as we are one with all in eliminating child labor. You [participants] will have the abilities and competencies, as well as a better understanding of child labor after this training,” she further stated.

Speakers from the World Vision and the DOLE presented and discussed important topics regarding child labor during the two-day activity.

Ms. Daphne Culanag, Director of Project ACE, presented the results of the Training Needs Assessment that they have conducted in 2021 to tailor-fit the training program to the needs of the participants.

She also discussed child labor and its worst forms including international principles and its guiding standards, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182 or the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC), as well as the salient features of Republic Act No. 9231 or the Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child Amending for this Purpose Republic Act No. 7610 Otherwise Known as “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

She added, “Children are exposed to more than one kind of hazard, and child labor subjects the child to economic exploitation that interferes with the child’s education. They are compelled to work and separated from their families which force them to lead premature adult lives.”

Mr. Jerommel Gabriel, Officer-in-Charge of the Young Workers Development Division (YWDD) from the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), and Engr. Kristine Carol Ramos, Chief Labor and Employment Officer (LEO) of Program Management, Technical Services and Support Division from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) discussed the child labor inspection checklist, and the identification of child laborers in the workplace, inspection procedure, and evidence gathering.

Mr. Gabriel shared that a labor inspector can examine the profile of the establishment, as well as interview the workers in order to identify a child laborer in the workplace.

Engr. Ramos provided the labor inspection procedure wherein labor inspectors are given authority to inspect by the Regional Directors. They would first proceed with the pre-process covering the conduct of document reviews or interviews, then the drafting of notice of results for approval by the employer and employee’s representatives.

“Our labor inspectors do not have the power over a closure or work stoppage of an establishment, but he/she is vital through his/her recommendation,” Ramos supplemented.

Engr. Rustico Levi Custorio, Senior Labor Inspector from the DOLE Region VII, discussed the topic on detecting, reporting, case handling, and referral mechanism of WFCL including one of their cases, as well as the process in issuing a Work Stoppage Order on the grounds of violation of occupational safety and health standards and general labor standards.

Atty. Divine Grace Gabunas, Chief LEO of the Technical Support Services Division from the DOLE Region VI, on the other hand, discussed the measures for detection, referral, and case handling of child labor cases.

“The stakeholders can provide debriefing, rehabilitation, or temporary shelters for identified child laborers,” Gabunas added.

Ms. Dianne Lyneth Alavado, Senior LEO of the YWDD from the BWSC oriented the participants on the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) and National Council Against Child Labor (NCACL), as well as the government’s efforts to protect children from WFCL.

She mentioned that the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has issued the Special Release on Working Children and Child Labor Situation which reported that an estimated 597,000 children are engaged in child labor in 2020.

“According to the Special Release by the PSA, the regions with a significant number of child laborers are Region X with 13.1% followed by Region V, BARMM, Region VII, and Region IV-A,” she added.

She also discussed the government’s initiative to combat child labor which includes the DOLE CLPEP programs: the profiling of child laborers; livelihood assistance to parents of child laborers; Sagip Batang Manggagawa; Project Angel Tree, and issuance of working child permit, and advocacy campaigns that raise awareness on child labor.

Ms. Aurora Halcon, Senior LEO, and Regional CLPEP focal person from the DOLE – National Capital Region (NCR) discussed the Sagip Batang Manggagawa - Quick Action Team (SBM-QAT) Operations and provided experiences of the DOLE - NCR related to rescue of child laborers.

After the discussions, the participants were divided into four groups to determine issues and challenges encountered based on their area of concern, propose recommendations and possible areas of collaboration to address these, and identify lead agencies to implement the recommended action.

The two-day activity ended with a closing message of Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, delivered by Mr. Gabriel, expressing her gratitude towards the participants, the World Vision, and the esteemed speakers for the successful turnout, and pointed out that the training is very timely for the preparation of the Philippines’ report on the initiatives of the government and stakeholders in eliminating child labor for the upcoming ILO’s 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour in Durban, South Africa.

END/YWDD/PMTSSD

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