Regional labor officials are alarmed over the alleged increase in child labor cases in the different parts of the Cordillera over the past several years that warrants the implementation of appropriate interventions to address the said problem.
Emerito Narag, assistant regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-CAR), said that the rate of increase in child labor in the region is considered to be alarming based on the data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
He claimed that majority of the child laborers are in agriculture, small-scale mining and construction although the DOLE was able to provide for the necessary intervention that address the problem of child labor in small-scale mining in some barangays of Sagada in Mountain Province through the years.
The DOLE-CAR official distinguished child work from child labor where under child work, the children are under the direct supervision of their parents and doing less strenuous activities such as running errands for them in their farms among others while under child labor, children aged 5 to 17 are paid and they earn for a living for their families and work in hazardous conditions.
According to him, children working with their parents at home or in their farms among other workplaces are considered to be working children which is actually allowed but working under the supervision of employers and they get paid for their work is considered as child labor punishable under existing laws, rules and regulations.
Narag explained that the agency’s approach to curb the proliferation of child labor in the region is for them to talk to their parents to find ways on how to intervene to address the said problem, thus, the primary intervention being undertaken by the DOLE is to provide the family with livelihood opportunities to prevent them from allowing children to work, especially under hazardous conditions.
He urged the public to report to the nearest DOLE provincial office the incidents of child labor in their places so that appropriate interventions could be done to avoid the problem from worsening and to spare the children from being exposed to danger instead of them staying in school to learn and acquire higher level of education which they could use to be productive in the future.
Narag emphasized that the parents play a key role in preventing the proliferation of child labor that is why the targeted sector of the agency’s interventions are the parents for them to be able to establish sustainable sources of livelihood to prevent them from allowing their children to be exposed to hazardous environments just to earn income for their families.
He underscored that children must stay in school because it is the place where they actually belong and it is the obligation of the parents to earn a living for their families with the appropriate interventions from concerned government agencies and possibly the local government.