MANILA – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday recognized the initiative of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) 'Makabata' helpline program against child labor.
Bishop Roberto Mallari, a member of the CBCP-Office on the Protection of Minors (OPM), believed that the campaign is a great help to strengthen and protect the rights of children.
"I thank the DOLE & DSWD officials for launching the MAKABATA (MA-halin at KA-lingain ating mga BATA) hotline, it will help to immediately address the abuses of children in any way,” he said in a message sent to Church-run Radio Veritas.
“I hope the concerned citizens will cooperate with the said agencies so they can report any kind of abuse that is done to children," the San Jose, Nueva Ecija prelate added.
The DOLE and DSWD, together with the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) launched the program during the 2023 World Day against Child Labor (WDACL) culminating activity held on June 23.
The mechanism will enable faster reporting and response to concerns related to children, including child abuse and child labor.
It also supports the labor department’s doubled efforts in eradicating child labor in the country, specifically in monitoring profiled child laborers to facilitate their removal from child labor.
Also launched during the WDACL event is the DOLE-initiated Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System website (https://batangmalaya.ph/), which holds all information on child labor, as well as concerted efforts and initiatives of the NCACL and its partners.
The public may access child labor-related data, such as the country’s child labor situation and the current status of program implementation, through the knowledge exchange platform.
Under the project, concerned citizens can report cases of child labor and child abuse to DOLE and DSWD by sending a message to 0960-3779863, 0915-8022375, and e-mail address [email protected].
According to data from the Philippines Statistics Authority in 2021, the number of youth working between the ages of 5 and 17 reached 31.47 million.
In 2022, the CWC recorded that the number of cases of youth abuse in the entire Philippines reached 9,000.
On the other hand, former child laborers and their families also received various assistance from the DOLE and social partners during the event last month.
Under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP), parents of identified child laborers also received PHP3 million worth of livelihood packages, with 43 receiving bigasan (rice stall) packages, 41 receiving sewing packages, and 16 receiving Nego-karts.
Through the Project Angel Tree initiative under the DOLE Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program, 100 child laborers were also provided with school supplies, food, and other gift packs.
Aside from the livelihood aid, the beneficiaries also received information materials on skill training registration from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); medical and dental services from the Department of Health; plant and vegetable seedlings from the Department of Agriculture; mobile NBI clearance application for the National Bureau of Investigation; information materials and free counseling from the Council for the Welfare of Children and the Philippine National Police; and information materials and food packs from the World Vision Development Foundation, among others.
This year’s WDACL theme, “Buong bansa, lahat ng bata, sama-sama para sa Batang Malaya,” emphasizes the need to scale up holistic efforts to end child labor through advocating social justice toward a child-labor-free country. (PNA)