On November 23, 2015, the 1st Anti-Child Labor Summit and Children’s Festival was initiated by the Department of Labor and Employment, Region XI. This summit and festival held at the SMX Convention Center is in line with the 23rd celebration of the National Children’s Month, which has the theme, “Komunidad at Pamahalaan Makaisa, Pang-aabuso sa Bata, Wakasan Na!” It was attended by the Secretary of DOLE, Honorable Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, the Regional Director of DOLE XI, Dir. Joffrey Suyao, the OIC-Asst. Regional Director of DOLE XI, Atty. Jason Balais, the Director of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, Dir. Ahmma Charisma Satumba, the Chief of Young Workers Development of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, Ms. Maribeth Casin, the Department Head of the Davao City Social Services and Development Office, the Regional Directors and representatives from our national government agencies, the Barangay Captains together with parents and children from their respective provinces across the region, the representatives from DOLE XI’s partner NGO, Kaugmaon, and the awardees of the Child-Labor Free Barangay Award and the Child-Labor Free Establishment Award.

This summit generally aimed to promote the protection of rights of children; thus it also ought to have educated the participants on the current trends of child labor in the country, and the related laws and issuances against the said trends. This summit also aimed to recognize the efforts and initiatives of barangays and establishments that are in line with the campaign against child labor. The children’s festival on the other hand, aimed to promote camaraderie among the participating children.

This given, among the highlights of the event was the Joint Memorandum Circular Signing of Partners (DOLE, DSWD, DepEd, DOH, DILG, DA, DOJ, TESDA, NEDA, CWC, PIA, and NCIP) on the Implementation of HELP ME Convergence Program to Address Child Labor in Davao Region. This was signed in the presence of Honorable Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz. This program is a community-based approach to answer the child laborers’ call: “HELP ME”. This call also serves as an acronym of the facets and actions targeted by the partners of this program: Health, Education, Livelihood opportunities, Prevention, protection, and prosecution, Monitoring, and Evaluation.

Another highlight was the awarding of barangays and establishments of the Child Labor Free Barangay (CLFB) and Child Labor Free Establishment (CLFE). 3 barangays from across the region were awarded with CLFB, while 10 establishments were awarded with CLFE. These awards serve as an acknowledgement of the efforts and initiatives of these barangays and establishments against child labor. Livelihood assistances were also granted to parents of the child laborers present in the summit.

Also, Honorable Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz gave a keynote addres in which she reiterated and expounded the HELP ME Program and the functions of the partner agencies under each acronym. She also highlighted the success story of a child laborer she has helped in collaboration with the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council of Aklan and set this story as a sample goal in taking action against child labor. This story was also set by Sec. Baldoz as an example of the effetiveness of collaborating with not only government agencies, but also with private companies; which, in the summit’s case is DOLE’s partnership with Makati Development Corporation (MDC). She also highlighted the fruit of all the efforts done by the government against child labor, as Philippines is among the top 10 countries with significant improvements on working against the worst forms of child labor, based on the recent global survey of the Department of Labor in USA. Sec. Baldoz overall stated that children should be studying in schools instead of working in hazardous and exploitative environments, for “education is the great equalizer of life”.

Other activities during the summit include the context setting of child labor through a video presentation entitled, “Aakayin Kita” which tackled the Six (6) Worst Forms of Child Labor; which educates the audience on the current trends of child labor in the country. This was followed by a talk that gave an overview on DOLE’s Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program, which highlights DOLE’s programs to eliminate child labor in the country. Gifts sponsored by the Makati Development Corporation were also given to the participating children as a part of DOLE’s “Project Angel Tree”. Lastly, the participating children laughed, shouted, and jumped for joy, as they were given the chance to participate, enjoy, and win prizes to fun games and trivia sessions during the Children’s Festival.

GIP Intern