DAVAO CITY – The Department of Labor and Employment in Davao Region (DOLE-11) said it has profiled more than 20,000 child laborers in the Davao Region in the last four years, even as it vowed to further strengthen programs to protect Filipino children.

In a statement Wednesday, DOLE-11 said the highest registered number of child laborers during the period was in 2021, at 10,797.

“As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, we stand ready to provide more assistance and reinforce our fight against child labor,” DOLE-11 Director Randolf Pensoy said.

DOLE-11 Assistant Director Jason Balais thanked the various stakeholders for their outstanding collaborative efforts toward achieving a meaningful advocacy against child labor.

“This endeavor is directed towards relieving the plight of children living in poverty and engaging in the worst forms of child labor. Subsequently, we have to continue to work together and show that we are one with the nation’s goal in addressing this major problem and in strengthening children’s rights,” Balais said.

Among the programs being undertaken by the agency include various awareness-raising efforts in line with the month-long celebration of World Day against Child Labor (WDACL).

Balais said one of the highlights of the effort was the conduct of a charity event through DOLE 11’s Project Angel Tree, in which DOLE reached out to partner agencies to raise funds and collect essential supplies for some 100 profiled child laborers.

Project Angel Tree aims to assist parents and guardians of child laborers to become financially stable by providing them with livelihood or emergency employment, the DOLE-11 official added.

Through the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) of the department, DOLE also aims to provide financial assistance to educate more child laborers and give livelihood grants and skills training to their parents.

In addition to its role in preventing and eliminating child labor, DOLE-11 chairs the Regional Council Against Child Labor (RCACL) composed of various, non-government agencies (NGOs), and Tripartite Industry Peace Councils (TIPCs) in Davao Region.

The RCACL is the regional counterpart of the National Council Against Child Labor (NCACL) tasked to augment the government efforts for the protection of children’s rights. (PNA)