To cap off the 2021 National Children’s Month (NCM), the Department of Labor and Employment XI, as the Chairperson of the Regional Council Against Child Labor (RCACL) XI, led the signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the implementation of HELP ME Convergence Program to address child labor in Davao Region on November 26, 2021 at the Ritz Hotel, Davao City.

The HELP ME Convergence Program aims to implement a sustainable and responsive convergence program to address child labor in the country by providing focused, converged, and synchronized strategies to effectively address the problem. HELP ME stands for the following: H – for health services and medical assistance; E – for education and training; L – for livelihood opportunities to parents of child laborers; P – for prevention, protection and prosecution; M – for monitoring; and E – for evaluation.

The council is composed of Department of Social Welfare and Development XI as the Co-Chairperson, Department of Education XI, Department of Health XI, Department of the Interior and Local Government XI, Department of Justice XI, Department of Agriculture XI, Department of Environment and Natural Resources XI, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos XI, National Economic and Development Authority XI, Philippine Information Agency XI, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority XI, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples XI, Philippine Statistics Authority XI, Police Regional Office XI, National Bureau of Investigation XI, Regional Sub-Committee on the Welfare of Children XI, National Youth Commission, National Anti-Poverty Commission, and ChildFund Philippines as member-agencies.

The MOA gave emphasis to the responsibilities of all member-agencies including updating and sharing their respective data or information on child labor or other related concerns to the HELP ME Data Management System, providing budgetary allocation to ensure program continuity, actively participating in inter-agency committees for effective convergence, and undertaking capacity building of program implementers.

During the said activity, the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) of DOLE XI also presented the 2018-2021 summary report of the profiled child laborers in Davao Region. The report highlighted that there were 20,518 child laborers profiled within four years, 2021 notably having the highest number with 10,387. Out of the total number, 48% were referred to partner agencies and already provided with assistance, while 52% were awaiting for provision.

“The common problem that comes out of the profiling and assessment include among others the need of the children to continue schooling, the need of livelihood and trainings of their parents, siblings, and guardians. I hope and pray, that HELP ME Convergence Program is the beginning of our united and strengthened collaboration in addressing and gradually eliminating the child labor in the Davao region,” DOLE XI OIC-Regional Director Atty. Randolf C. Pensoy said in his inspirational message.

Meanwhile, DOLE-Davao Oriental Field Office (DOFO) distributed P25,000 worth of grocery items to 25 parents of child laborers from barangays Badas, Central, and Dahican in the City of Mati. The turn-over ceremony was held on November 25, 2021 at Oriental Prince Arcade and Suites, City of Mati, facilitated by DOLE-DOFO Community Facilitator Mr. Paul Anthony Amarillo  with the supervision DOLE-DOFO DILEEP Focal Person Mr. Alex D. Morales.

The said undertaking is alongside the national and local government’s endeavor with its immediate efforts in mainstreaming awareness on the rights of the children especially the plight of child laborers and to reiterate country’s solidarity movement against child labor not only in the province, but in the Philippines as a whole.