Poverty pushes parents to allow their children to leave school to work even under extreme weather and harsh conditions to augment their daily needs.
During milling season, parents and some minor children take advantage of the demand for workers in sugar plantations in Negros Occidental and work as migratory sugarcane workers or sacadas.
Championing the advocacy to end and eliminate child labor, Regional Director Atty. Sixto T. Rodriguez Jr. directed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 6-Negros Occidental Field Office (DOLE RO 6-NOFO) to closely monitor and to respond immediately to reported cases of child labor.
On February 15, 2023, DOLE RO 6-NOFO received a report of a 16-year-old child working as a sacada in a sugarcane plantation in Isabela, Negros Occidental.
The report was validated and subsequently a Sagip Batang Manggagawa Operation was launched in partnership with the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Isabela.
Sagip Batang Mangagawa is a DOLE advocacy program, part of the national strategy to reduce the number of child workers, especially those in hazardous work.
DOLE RO6- NOFO Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program focal Zyrene Prietos found out that the child was hired lawfully by the employer.
The child’s name was included among the fifty-six (56) sacadas from the province of Antique listed under the Certificate of Authority to Transport. The Barangay ID presented by the child laborer indicated that he was already 20 years old.
But upon verification of his birth certificate, the team found out that the child is only 16 years old. He revealed that he told the issuing authority of the identification card that he is already of legal age.
He said that he stopped going to school and chose to work to augment his parent’s income. The said child was sent back to his parents in Culasi, Antique with the help of his contractor few days after he was rescued.
“DOLE’s effort to curb the existence of child labor does not stop there,” Rodriguez said. “Our aim is to provide a brighter future for the rescued child laborer through proper education and he will be referred to the Department of Education to continue his studies through the Alternative Learning System.”
Rodriguez also said that the Regional Office will assist the parents to secure some farm inputs from the Department of Agriculture for the land they are cultivating in Antique.