CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Despite the government’s campaign to end child labor, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) estimated that there are at least 20,000 children across Northern Mindanao who are still forced to do hazardous work because of poverty.
The DOLE in Northern Mindanao identified Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, and Misamis Occidental as the provinces in the region where child labor remains prevalent.
Poverty is the number one driving force of child labor with the agriculture industry as the highest user of child laborers in the region. Bukidnon tops the list in Northern Mindanao, followed by Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, and Misamis Occidental.
Thirteen of 100 child laborers in the country can be found in Northern Mindanao, making the region the top user of child labor, according to the December 15, 2021 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
DOLE regional director Albert Gutib said on Thursday, June 9, that government interventions brought down from 22.1% to 13.1% the rate of child labor in the region since 2015, but the illegal use of children to beef up the workforce remained widespread in Northern Mindanao.
DOLE defines child laborers as children aged 5 to 17 who engage in hazardous work, depriving them of their normal social environment and formal education.
Worse, officials said, is when children are forced to undergo long hours of work daily.
Among the country’s 17 regions, Northern Mindanao accounted for the largest share of the country’s child laborers at 13% as of 2020.
Bicol ranked second with 9.2%, Davao Region with 2.2%, National Capital Region with 1.9%, and the Cordillera Administrative Region with 1.6%, according to national statistician and civil registrar-general Dennis Mapa.
Gutib said the DOLE has fielded community facilitators and enumerators to profile these child laborers, and the industries they were in “so we can have interventions, not only from DOLE but also from other national agencies, local government units, and private organizations.” – Rappler.com