DOLE Seeks to Rid More CamNorte Barangays of Child Labor

LEGAZPI CITY, April 16 (PNA) -- Six barangays covering gold-panning areas in Paracale, Camarines Norte, have been identified as initial targets of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the implementation of its Child Labor Free Barangays’ Program in Bicol.

"This is a new program launched in Camarines Norte early this month as another serious government step toward curbing child labor in Bicol, especially in gold mining areas like Paracale,” DOLE Bicol Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra said here on Tuesday.

The six barangays are Gumaos, Tugos, Palanas, Tawig, Malaguit and Casalugan--all within the remote areas of Paracale, a poor coastal town in Camarines Norte that is considered the province’s “gold capital.”

Proven as a gold mining area with significant resource potential, Paracale is a third class municipality around 250 kilometers southeast of Manila and home to 53,243 people listed by the National Census Office during its 2010 population survey.

The six barangays were chosen by the Camarines Norte Child Labor Committee, which Lacambra himself heads, after it was noted that the use of children in gold-panning activities in the area was rampant.

beneficiaries of the Child Labor Free Barangay program,” Lacambra told the PNA.

These barangays would be a perfect area for the program, considering the urgency of taking away these children from hazardous labor, he said.

A survey by the National Statistics Office (NSO) has indicated that some 300,000 children in Bicol have been engaged in hazardous work. Around 10,000 of them are in Camarines Norte, with about 2,000 into mining and fishing.

The NSO, along with the International Labor Organization, last year listed Bicol as second in the rank of child labor cases in the country, next to Central Luzon.

Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Central Visayas followed third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Nationwide, Lacambra said, the government is addressing the child labor issue that involves a total of about 5.4 million children with ages ranging between seven and 17 years old.

Lacambra said DOLE’s intervention in Camarines Norte will not only focus on the child laborers or their parents but also to the entire community, which includes the barangay and the elementary schools in the area.

He urges barangay officials and community heads to actively participate in the program and monitor the status of the child laborers while school teachers oversee the school performance and attendance of the listed child laborers.

There is a livelihood grant totaling more than P.5 million for the families of these listed child laborers that will be used in livelihood undertaking to lift their living conditions and dissuade the parent from allowing their children to work in the mining sites or go fishing, Lacambra said.

“We, however, have to wait for the election ban on fund releases to be lifted in order to award it as promised,” he said.

The DOLE, he explained, is working with partners, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government and local government units (LGUs) in this program.

Earlier, the Camarines Norte Provincial Sagip Batang Manggagawa-Quick Action Team (SBM-QAT) had intensified its anti-child labor program to transform the lives of child laborers, their families and communities towards their sense of self-worth, empowerment and development.

The move is in line with the Philippine Program Against Child Labor strategic framework for 2007-2015 vision to make this country a child labor-free.

SBM-QAT, formed as early as 2004, has since then rescued a total of 904 minors from child labor administrative cases were filed against their employers for violation of labor standards.

Most of the rescued child laborers have been reintegrated with their respective families and communities with the help of DSWD and some were provided with educational assistance, skills training and livelihood assistance. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Source: PNABicol