DOLE, Public-Private Partners Emancipate 30 Child Log Haulers
24 July 2012,
Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte— 30 indigenous child workers from Barangay Bagang, Jabonga, earning the notorious monicker batang kalabaw , discovered hauling logs for a meager fee by Goldstar journalist Ben Serrano and reported to DOLE-Caraga last April, have finally been emancipated from the worst form of child labor, said DOLE-Caraga Chief Ofelia B. Domingo in her report to Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz, who is closely monitoring the situation of the child workers since she received the report two months ago. Domingo gave the report right after the turnover ceremony held at the Barangay Baleguian Gymnasium, Jabonga, for the school supplies, educational assistance checks, and carabaos awarded to the parents of the batang kalabaw, in exchange for freeing their children from the hazardous work, and sending them back to school where they belong.
DOLE Undersecretary for Labor Standards and Social Protection Lourdes M. Trasmonte awarded the carabaos on behalf of Secretary Baldoz.. The turnover was also witnessed by Country Director Jeff Laurence Johnson of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Bureau of Workers With Special Concerns (BWSC) Chief Chit DG. Cilindro, and Director Nikon Fameronag of the Labor Communications Office (LCO).
“This is a result of the concerted efforts of convergence between DOLE-Caraga, Agusan Norte Governor Erlpe John. M. Amante, 2nd District Congresswoman Angel Rosedell A. Matba, and the tremendous support of other regional line agencies and private organizations”, Domingo said in her report.
DOLE-Caraga awarded 5 working carabaos as livelihood assistance, while Gov. Amante and Cong. Matba each donated 5 carabaos, for a total of 15 carabaos to be utilized by the 20 families of the child workers. Of the 15 carabaos, 8 male species were released yesterday to be used for plowing and transporting of heavy loads, transportation, etc.., while the remaining 7 female carabaos to be used as a source for milk and other dairy products are scheduled to be awarded on August next month. RD Domingo emphasized to the parents during her presentation of the rationale that these carabaos must be utilized as a means of livelihood, farming and transportation, and not to slaughter and sell the meat, which a common practice in the barangay. She warned them that a team will be monitoring the status of the carabaos regularly.
Two notable private organizations also poured in their generous share of support to the project. People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and Caraga Family Welfare Council, Inc. (CFWCI) each pledged a total of P 20,000 (P 5,000 to be released every quarter) to be given to the children, through DOLE, as educational assistance to defray the expenses of the children in school. DOLE-Caraga also distributed school supplies to the child workers.
“We must ensure that these children will be sent back to school and we must do everything we can to prevent them from engaging in laborious work again” Usec Trasmonte said in her message to the public and private partners.
Usec Trasmonte also urged the stakeholders to look into an alternative learning system for the children to sustain their education, given the situation that Barangay Bagang is located in a remote part of Jabonga, kilometers away from the nearest school in town, a factor which could affect the children’s interest in pursuing their education.
The parents of the batang kalabaw were made to sign a memorandum of cooperation translated into their dialect so they could understand that they are signing a commitment not to allow their children to engage in hard labor again, and to utilize the carabaos as a sustainable means of livelihood.
A memorandum of agreement was signed after the turnover ceremony, by the regional line agencies and private organizations who have committed to support the “Angel Tree” project, and the department’s campaign for Child Labor Prevention and Elimination, to wit: Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Local Government Unit of Jabonga, People Management Association of the Philippines, Caraga Family Welfare Council, Inc., Provincial Local Government Unit of Agusan Del Norte, and the 2nd Congressional District of Agusan Del Norte.