Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III offered a livelihood assistance for the immediate families of the three apprehended minors who snatched his mobile phone in Manila last November 6, 2020.

According to DOLE-NCR Regional Director Sarah Buena S. Mirasol, two of the identified family members “Leny” and “Maria” (not their real names) received a Sari-sari (retail) Store Livelihood Package in April and July 2021, respectively, while “Edgardo” (not his real name) received his Bigasan (rice retailing) Livelihood Package in June 2021.

The Sari-sari store Livelihood package consisted of basic goods such as sack of rice, canned goods, snacks, toiletries, and other grocery items while the Bigasan Livelihood Package consisted of eight sacks of 50 kg rice. Each package was worth P20,000.

The families thanked Secretary Bello for the DOLE livelihood assistance despite the unfortunate incident. With a new source of income, they look looked forward to sustaining their new small business and save enough money to help get their children back in school and augment other family needs.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako kay Secretary Bello na binigyan niya kami ng pangkabuhayan. Malaking tulong po ito sa amin lalo na sa ngayon na wala akong trabaho kasi nagsara simula nung pandemic,” said Edgardo, uncle of one of the arrested minors.

To recall, the immediate families were identified in November 2020, when the labor chief through Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns conducted a profiling of the apprehended minors who were also confirmed to be engaged in child labor activities, following a meeting with the Manila Police District representatives at the Office of the DOLE Secretary during the same month.

Instead of four months imprisonment, the three children in conflict were placed under the care and custody of the National Training School for Boys (NTSB) in Tanay, Rizal, for six months following the Court Orders from Branch 5 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, given that they are only minors (aged 15-17), pursuant to Section 38 of Republic Act. No. 9344.

At present, DOLE-NCR Regional Director Mirasol said that the child laborers are now placed under the care and custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for further assistance. The DOLE-NCR chief also hoped that through the awarded livelihood project, the household income of the immediate families would eventually improve by the time they are reunited with said minors.

END / Hershey Aquino with report from Aurora Halcon