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MANILA, Philippines - The labor department's regional office in the Caraga region has rescued some 30 children from log hauling operations in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte, through its Sagip Batang Manggagawa program.
Quoting a report of DOLE Caraga Regional Director Ofelia Domingo, Labor Secretary Baldoz said the DOLE regional office's Quick Action Team acted on a report by Philippine Star and Goldstar Daily reporter Ben Serrano about the prevalence of children allegedly being employed to haul logs in Bagang, a remote barangay of Jabonga.
Secretary Baldoz instructed Domingo to coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to see to the welfare and well-being of the children at home and in school.
"It is in school where these children belong, not in the back-breaking work of hauling off logs. If necessary, implement our DOLE programs to provide their parents livelihood so that we can help them wean their children away from child work," Baldoz told Domingo.
Ten of the 30 children are enrolled while 20 are dropouts. A few are already in third year high school. Almost half of the children are between the ages of 9 and 12; three are 6-10 years old; six are 13-15 years old; and eight are 16-18 years old.
The children's parents are all informal farm workers with no formal schooling. A few of them were log haulers themselves. Most of the mothers are stay-at-home housewives also with no means of income.
"We have already received the commitment of the parents that they will stop their children from hauling logs. They also committed to be advocates of our Anti-Child Labor Program," said Domingo.