Sugar, corn industries top employers of Bukidnon’s child laborers

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/30 November) –  The agriculture sector,
specifically sugar and corn, has the most number of child laborers in
the province according to baseline survey commissioned for the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), a program funded by the
International Labor Organization.

About 70 percent of the children said that they work in exploitative
conditions because they need to support their family. This is according to
Giovanni Soledad, IPEC program coordinator, in his presentation to
reporters Wednesday.

The survey was conducted in relation to Bukidnon’s inclusion to the
IPEC’s four demonstration areas. The other three provinces are
Masbate, Northern Samar, and Quezon.

In Bukidnon, the survey focused only on four areas identified for the
IPEC, namely Malaybalay City, Valencia City and the municipalities of
Quezon and Maramag.

In those areas, surveyors found 1,632 child laborers, 66 percent of which are
boys and 34 percent girls. Half of the identified child laborers
belong to ages 15 to 17 while 46 percent belonged to the 10 to 14 age
bracket.Four percent of them belong to the 5 to 9 years old range.

Forty-five percent of the child laborers are out of school. For those in
school, the average absence in class was placed at four times a month.
Those who couldn’t go to school cited “can’t afford to go to school” as reason.
Soledad told reporters they intend to do progressive elimination of
child labor with priority on the worst areas.

According to Republic Act 9231, child labor is any work or economic
activity performed by a child that subjects her or him to any form of
exploitation or is harmful to his or her health, safety or physical,
mental, or psychological development.

The goal of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL),
Soledad added, is to eliminate worst forms of child labor by 75
percent by 2015. He cited that IPEC
interventions include education services for children, parent
effectiveness seminars, child labor monitoring and integrated referral
system, community-based monitoring system (CBMS) and local development
planning, vocational course on sugar farming technology, and
development of a Code of Conduct for the Sugar Industry to include
anti-child labor policies.

But Soledad said the centerpiece of the program is Local Economic
Development and pro-poor livelihood opportunities. He said the major
cause of child labor is poverty with parents having low income and who
needed their children to augment their income.

But Danilo Braza, program coordinator of the Sugar Industry
Foundation, Inc. (SIFI), said they are counting on the education of
children as a long term solution to the poverty.

SIFI, the social arm of the sugar industry, groups about 70 percent of
the sugar planters associations in the Philippines.

He said the group supports about 200 college students for assistance
and full scholarships in Mindanao. But he admitted that they are only
reaching a “drop in the bucket” of child laborers in the country who
need support for their education. (Walter  I. Balane)

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One Response

  1. in my opinion, economic development only occurs to the businessman and we can say it stable life who can afford to eat three times a day,,,, but the conflict in this situation is lot of poor people never cured by this economic development as if favors to the rich…………….

    much better if more livelihood programs must establish as a solution to minimize up to eradication of child labor……..

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