Cebu City (4 October) -- To reduce the incidence of child laborers in the country by 75 percent by the year 2015 is the ultimate goal of the National Government as children working in hazardous conditions continue to be a global problem.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7) Regional Director Elias Cayanong bared they are currently working with partner agencies in the government and private sectors as well as non-government and people's organizations to improve the lives of working children and encourage them to go back to school.
Education is one of the very basic right of every child and that this must not be deprived of them.
Though poverty is the main factor that forced children under 18 years of age to work even in harmful circumstances, this is not an excuse for parents or those who hire minors to allow children to work in conditions that places their health and lives at risk,. according to Cayanong.
Cayanong was one of the guests of the recent PIA forum that tackled child labor in celebration of the National Children's Month every October.
The DOLE-7 chief cited seven areas that have been identified as hazardous conditions for working children which government strictly does not allow. These sectors include agriculture, mining, pyrotechnics, entertainment, deep-sea fishing and domestic work.
Agriculture remains to be the top sector where majority of the minors are seen toiling in plantations, harvesting crops and spraying chemical pesticides on fields particularly in the sugar industry, Cayanong noted.
Based on a 2003 report from the National Statistics Office, over 50 percent of working children in the Philippines is in the broad-based agri-sector accounting to about 2.1 Filipino children.
Cayanong revealed there are 2.4M Filipino minors working in the mentioned hazardous sectors while the data is gleaned last 2001 yet. Out of the figure, Central Visayas accounts to about 388T working minors.
The figure for Central Visayas however, has been challenged by some sectors as even the DOLE-7 official registry only accounted for about 26,800 child laborers, the DOLE-7 director said.
Of the total number of working children in the region, the bulk of the figure which is between 72 percent to 78 percent is found in the sugar industry, Cayanong said.
Region VII on the other hand, always grabbed the third or fourth spot when it comes to child labor incidence in the country. The top placer is the National Capital Region especially in Metro Manila followed by Region 4-A, this is learned.
Cayanong said they are now in talks with Southwestern University in Cebu City and Oriental Negros State University in Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros of the possibility of coming up with alternative courses for working children that allow them to work and go to school at the same time.
The time period we are looking at is between 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. or between 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Cayanong disclosed but added that no time schedule has been finalized.The DOLE-7 also launched their 'Angel Tree for Child Laborers" Project which aims to raise funds for working children in order to meet their education needs like the provision of school bags, school shoes and other basic necessities for children. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)