HAGONOY, Davao del Sur – THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), an active partner of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) in combatting and eliminating the different forms of child-labor in the country recently conducted a site visit at Barangay Kibuaya, one of the child labor-free barangays in Davao Region.

Barangay Kibuaya was among the barangays selected by DOLE in July 2012 for its Child-labor-Free Barangay campaign, which aims to free identified barangays from all forms of child-labor through supporting programs from public and private partners.

In a short program, barangay captain Virginia C. Tobiano together with other municipal officials happily reported that the school dropouts in the barangay have significantly decreased.

“Taos puso ko pong pinasasalamatan ang Department of Labor and Employment pati ang mga partner agencies kasi binigyan nila ng chance ang mga bata (I am whole heartedly thanking the Department of Labor and Employment and partner agencies for giving the children a chance),” Tobiano said.

Before the government and non-government organizations intercession, children in the barangay were engaged in hazardous work that involved working at sugar cane fields and vegetable farming.

 “With the help of this project and the effort of our barangay captain, nagkaroon ng pag-asa ang mga kabataan dito sa barangay Kibuaya, pag-asa na makamit ang pangarap ng edukasyon. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko dahil kung hindi sa inyo mananatili akong isang child-laborer (the children here in barangay Kibuaya was given a chance to reach their dream of education. I am greatly thankful because if not because of you I will still be a child-laborer),” said Helen R. Redoble, a former child laborer during her speech in front of the CWC board.

The board together with Barangay Captain Tobiano visited the Bagsakan sa Barangay trading facility and the Food Processing Facility of the barangay’s Kibuaya ABK2 Initiative Parent Association (Kaicopa) funded by DOLE. According to Tobiano, their store’s income other than helping the children’s parents by providing livelihood also provides scholarship and other educational assistance to former child laborers.

The CWC board headed by CWC executive director Patricia B. Luna, deputy executive director Marijoy D. Segui, DOLE-Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) director Ahmma Charisma L. Satumba, and DOLE Davao del Sur provincial head Henry O. Montilla led the team for the visit at barangay Kibuaya on February 19. This is the very first child-labor free barangay site visit of the CWC Board in the country.

Other officials present include Commissioner Leah Armamento – Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Reinelda Raffinan – Department of Interior and Local Government, Director Erlinda Capones – National Economic and Development Authority, Ulysses Lustria, Jr. – Department of Agriculture, Adora Rodriguez from the Philippine Information Agency, DOLE XI Child-labor Prevention and Elimination Program focal person Melanie Jadulang and DOLE Young Workers Development Division of BHWSC Chief Maribeth E. Casin.

Other than Barangay Kibuaya another child-labor free barangay in the region is Barangay Pasig in Kiblawan which is also in Davao del Sur. (Kriztja Marae G. Labrador/LCO – DOLE-XI)