A child selling foodstuff (pictured) is a typical scene across the Philippines due to widespread poverty. - Websitephoto
LEGAZPI CITY: The Bicol region has 300,000 children workers, next only to the 316,000 child laborers in Central Luzon.
With its six provinces and eight cities, the Bicol region has been invariably called the country’s tambay (unemployed) capital.
Quoting statistics from the 2011 National Statistics Office (NSO) and the International Labor Organization, coming in third was Western Visayas with 250,000 followed by Northern Mindanao with 248,000, and Central Visayas with 225,000.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra said these children were involved in hazardous work mainly because of the lack of livelihood sources of their parents.
Last year Albay Gov Joey Sarte Salceda said based on a National Economic and Development Authority study, the Bicol Region also topped the list with its unemployed population.
The government should create more employment opportunities with minor-aged children attending school to finish even vocational courses.
Labor officials had warned establishments from hiring minor-age children as employees, adding that entertainment joints such as beer houses and nightclub owners are being monitored for hiring entertainers below 18 years of age.
Lacambra said that on Dec 7, his office will hold in Legazpi a 5km marathon called “the run against child labor” aimed at raising the level of awareness on the menace of child labor.
The DOLE official said participants will pay a registration fee of P200 and said the raised funds will be used in the campaign against child labor to minimize, if not totally stop the incidence.
Salceda urged business establishment owners, professionals and government officials and the general public to join the fun-run for the people to feel “our concern against child labor.”
Lacambra said based on statistics, “we have 30 million children under the age bracket of five to 17 and that an estimated 5.4 million are considered working children”.
The statistics showed majority of these children are engaged in hazardous working condition like prostitution, agriculture, fishing, mining, construction, factory work, street vending and house helps.
The latest statistics showed these children are now being utilized by criminal syndicates as fronts in various illegal trades.”
Lacambra hailed some local government units in CamNorte like Paracale town which is actively fighting for child-labor free establishments.
Paracale Mayor Romeo Moreno said that every entertainment shop in the town are pasted with stickers Dikit-Paalala Campaign (poster reminder campaign) against child labor, which is constantly monitored by town representatives and the police.
Paracale is the site of small-scale gold mining trade that helped entertainment joints boom.
Lacambra said CamNorte had created last year the Provincial Anti-Child Labor Council ordinance headed by the DOLE provincial office.
The council has been effective in curbing child labor in the province. – Business Mirror