By Leslie Ann Aquino
An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) raised alarm over reports that over 7,000 child laborers were profiled by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the National Capital Region.
Bishop Roberto Mallari, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Catechism and Catholic Education, said it is saddening that because of poverty and lack of livelihood, children are suffering and forced to render labor.
“The root of this sad reality is poverty and lack of livelihood options which leads the child to contribute to the family income,” he said.
“Children have the right to basic necessities of life which unfortunately the family and society cannot provide,” Mallari added.
“The situation of the suffering children and those who are deprived of their rights and dignity leave a great challenge to us as a church and as a society,” the Nueva Ecija prelate said.
“God entrusted to us His beloved children. Ours is a task of taking care of them and be with them in their values formation,” he added.
Based on the initial findings of DOLE-NCR’s six field district offices, of the 7,301 profiled child laborers, between 4 to 17 years of age, Quezon City has the highest number with 1,792.
This was followed by Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) with 1,783; the City of Manila with 1,538; Muntaparlas (Muntinlupa, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas) with 1,210; Makati-Pasay with 331; and Papamamarisan (Pasig, Pateros, Mandaluyong, Marikina, San Juan) with 277.
The remaining 370 were profiled from non-government organization shelters.
The report of DOLE-NCR revealed that majority of the children work as vendors or helpers (65.3%) while others are engaged in waste management (24.3%), construction (3.7%), transportation and storage (3.2%), domestic work (2.0%), and manufacturing (1.5%).
In terms of school attendance, 75.0% of the profiled child laborers are attending school, which generally indicated that most of them are engaged in paid or self-employment to buy things for their school needs, help their family in attending to household chores, or help their family / employer operate their small business.
The report also showed that 24.0% of the child laborers were not attending school.
A needs assessment for the child laborers and their families was also conducted by the DOLE-NCR to identify the type of assistance or interventions to help withdraw the children from child labor.
The child labor victims were profiled and assessed by DOLE-NCR from July to September 2019.
The initial report was presented recently by DOLE-NCR community facilitator and registered Social Worker Edgar Movilla during the Mid-Semester Performance Assessment of Profiling of Child Laborers held in Manila.
The profiling is still in progress until December 2019.