The concerns on child labor is one of the issues that is being addressed by all its stakeholders. Its high importance can be seen in the participation of various agencies and organizations that caters to the well-being of children—primary of which is the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Law Enforcement Agencies, Local Government Units (LGU) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

In the National Capital Region (NCR), an identified 1,102 children were profiled in 2022 for provision of assistance with the aim of alleviating their conditions for their welfare and benefit. Of said number, the largest comes from Quezon City, one of the prime locations of the region. In Quezon City alone, there are 433 child laborers identified for interventions.

It is in this premise that the World Vision, in coordination with DOLE and Quezon City LGU held a two-day capacity building for the local officials of Barangays Sauyo, Bagong Silangan, and Old Balara. Entitled “Training of Policy Makers and Duty-Bearers on Policy Formulation and Action Planning in Preventing and Addressing Cases of Worst Forms of Child Labor, including Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and Violations of Acceptable Conditions of Work at the Local Level,” the activity aims to share information and practices that shall aid the participants in crafting local policies in response to child labor concerns at the grassroots level.

The two-day activity, held at Brentwood Suites on July 26-27, 2022, was attended by more than 50 participants including members of the Program Implementation Committee of Quezon City.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Daphne Culanag, Project Director of Project ACE (Against Child Exploitation) of World Vision, thanked the attendees for their participation and expressed her hope for better cooperation among the stakeholders and program implementation through policy development.

During the first day plenary session, Atty. Rapunzel Abueg of Quezon City LGU provided information about the resolutions and ordinances that can be drafted by the barangays including its processes. She also mentioned the importance of the barangay participation in the economic development of the locality.

DOLE-NCR was represented by Mr. Ryan Roberto E. Delos Reyes, Senior Labor and Employment Officer of the Employment Promotion and Workers Welfare Division and the Regional Child Labor Focal Person. In his presentation, Delos Reyes contextualized the concerns of child labor by presenting “Child Pornography in the 4th Industrial Revolution.” The presentation includes data on internet usage, ownership of gadgets, and youth sexual behavior, among others. Said information was provided to the attendants to give a better picture of the current situation on youth perspective on sex and the contributions of the technological advancement on the concern of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Delos Reyes likewise gave information about the Department’s initiative on rescue operations under the “Sagip Batang Mangagagwa – Quick Action Team,” an intervention that removes child laborers in hazardous conditions. Delos Reyes presented the process of the operations and highlighted the importance of coordination among duty-bearers to ensure its success. He also shared personal rescue operations experiences to present a clear picture of the realities of child labor as well as the lengths law enforcement authorities have to go through to save the victims from the perpetrators.

Prior to the break-out sessions, Delos Reyes discussed the “Joint Statement to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor,” a document that was crafted during the National Summit on Child Labor held last month at Bay View Hotel. In said document, recommendations and measures were provided by the duty-bearers and stakeholders on effectively addressing the concerns of child labor.

Relatively, Delos Reyes facilitated and provided technical assistance in the break-out session that will support and respond to the provisions of the formerly mentioned statement through the drafting of possible ordinances that can be enacted at the local level. Among his recommendations are the strengthening of coordination between the Barangay Child Protection Committee with the Schools’ Child Protection Committee, prohibition on establishing private chat rooms and cubicles in internet or computer shops, and strengthening coordination with national government agencies on advocacies relative to the provision of information on education and employment services; among others. Delos Reyes also recommended forging a Memorandum of Understanding on data sharing of profiled child laborers for provision of economic and livelihood services to their families.

Said activity was capped with Ms. Antonia D. Salamat’s closing remarks, expressing her gratitude for the active participation of the participants as well as commending the activity’s output that will contribute to the convergent action plan of addressing the worst forms of child labor.

END / Ryan Roberto Delos Reyes