MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (PIA)—One hundred parents of child laborers in Bukidnon received a total of P1.5 million worth of livelihood starter kits recently from the Department of Labor and Employment Bukidnon Provincial Field Office (DOLE-10 Buk PFO) in time that the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes pushing more children into child labor.
DOLE Bukidnon chief Raul L. Valmores said these 100 identified child laborers’ parents received DOLE’s livelihood starter kits for projects on Hog Raising (91 parents); Cattle Raising (1); Sari-sari Store Vending (6); and Vegetable Vending (2).
“This program helps eliminate child labor incidents. That is why DOLE provided these livelihood starter kits to augment parents’ income and take care of their children’s basic needs, especially in sending them to school, instead of letting children work in unsafe jobs,” he said.
Maramag Municipal Mayor Lawyer Jose Joel P. Doromal, likewise, thanked the government for these DOLE projects.
“We are facing hard times today. This COVID-19 changed our lives, especially that it affects our livelihood and income. Workers were displaced when some companies closed. We are so blessed that in this time of pandemic, DOLE granted us these livelihood starter kits that enable parents of child laborers cope with the crisis,” the mayor said.
DOLE-10 reports showed that the project beneficiaries were among the surveyed Parents of Child Laborers (PCLs) in nine towns of Bukidnon under the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP).
The local government units’ Public Employment Service Officers (PESO) also facilitated the identification of priority areas and checked who are qualified to avail of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) “Kabuhayan” individual project.
Thus, in partnership with Valencia Rural Improvement Multi-Purpose Cooperative (VRI-MPC), DOLE’s accredited co-partner, the starter kits were turned-over to PCLs living in the municipalities of Lantapan, Maramag, Quezon, Don Carlos, Damulog, Kibawe, Dangcagan, Kitaotao and Malaybalay City.
In his message during the turnover ceremony, Ignacio Cabusog, one of the parent-beneficiaries inspired his peers to persevere by working hard as he said, “Ang gobyerno wala nagpasagad og kanunay gatan-aw para sa kaayohan natong tanan. Pero dili kita magsalig nalang sa gobyerno, maningkamot ta nga mapalambo kining gihatag sa DOLE kanato. Kanunay natong hinumdoman kung nganong naapil kita ani nga programa; kini tungod sa atong mga bata!”
(The government has never been neglecting us. For our gains, the government creates more innovative ways. But we don’t always have to rely on the government. We have to work hard to develop what DOLE has given us, and we should always remember that we do this for our children’s welfare)
Cabusog is a father of 10 young children. Three of whom, aged 14, 16, and 18 are currently in school on weekdays but are still engaged in child labor on weekends. They work as “Manggunahay (weeders)” in the sugarcane fields in Quezon town because their father (Ignacio Cabusog) does not have a stable job, while their mother had been disabled since last year due to a mild stroke. The family relies primarily on the financial support provided by its working children in order to survive.
In fact, Cabusog shared that COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the situation because as senior citizens, they were forced to stay home.
Likewise, the shift to online/modular learning method in school added internet expenses.
“This Hog Raising livelihood starter kit from DOLE is a big help. We will work hard to make significant progress on this and gain money for school and food spending,” Cabusog said in dialect.
Child labor incidence in the province relates mostly to agricultural sector. It has become a tradition and culture for most of the farmers’ families to let children engage in farm works to save labor costs, thereby increasing its income.
Through the intervention of DOLE’s DILP and CLPEP programs, the beneficiaries’ economic capability is expected to gradually improve and result in the removal of children from child labor.
In this way, DOLE Bukidnon chief Raul Valmores reiterated his call for parents to persevere by making rapid strides in these gainful livelihood projects.
“We urge you all to take these livelihood projects seriously. Amid this COVID-19 pandemic, consider this grant as a stepping stone for larger livelihood undertakings in the future. We are also hopeful that your projects will be sustained or better yet will grow bigger for you to send your children back to school and no longer engage in child labor activities,” he said. (DOLE Bukidnon/PIA Bukidnon)