In a series of activities beginning with a profiling interview and ending with an action planning workshop, the regional office in Davao has recently formulated an action plan together with stakeholders aimed at eliminating child labor in the mines of Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

In Maragusan, children work as “packers”, or gold ore porters, in barangay Pamintaran, the latest gold rush area in Compostela Valley. They carry ore gravel in sacks weighing 50 kilos or more from the tunnel entrance to the loading station, negotiating slippery and treacherous mountain trails. Many are of the Mandaya, one of the largest indigenous communities in Region 11, from Kagan Valley, the most inaccessible barangay of New Bataan, but some are from Maragusan itself, going up to the mines on weekends. Some children work as workers in ball mills, water porters and even as avanteros (miners). The pay is quick and easy, the children receiving P50 per sack.

Profiling results point to the following:

  1. Parents knew that their children are working in the mines, and in some cases, it was the parents themselves who brought them to the mines;
  2. Parents were mostly farmers;
  3. The children were no longer interested to go back to school;
  4. The children aspired to put up a small business someday.

The action planning workshop itself resulted into the following recommendations:

  1. The completion of the road to Kagan Valley to open up the area for economic opportunities so the parents wouldn’t have to risk their children’s lives in working in the mines;
  2. The shutting down of gambling establishments in the mining area preying on children;
  3. The immediate removal of minors from the mining area;
  4. Training for the youth of Kagan Valley and Maragusan;
  5. Values re-education for parents of minor children working in the mines.

The next step for the regional office is the presentation of the workshop results to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Compostela Valley and to Governor Arturo Uy and to the Sangguniang Bayan of Maragusan and Mayor Cesar Colina, Jr. But even as it’s planning its penultimate interventions in Maragusan, the regional office is already taking a glance at nearby Pantukan, where it is rumored that there are more working children.

Read more about the child packers of Maragusan at RD’s Blog.