DOLE rescues child laborers in Mindoro Occidental mines

Published by rudy Date posted on April 7, 2011

ACTING on the report of a village school teacher, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has rescued school-age children working in the salt mines of Occidental Mindoro province.

Through its Sagip Batang Manggagawa program—an inter-agency collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local governments—the Labor department rescued the said minors—who were working in the salt fields of Sitio Toong, Caguray village, Magsaysay town—after teacher Noemi Ramirez sought its help to bring them back to school.

Ramirez, who teaches at the Guballa Elementary School in Sitio Toong, said that she noticed how most of her students would stop attending school after finishing Grade 3 and work in the salt mines to help their parents earn a living.

“We need to help the parents to help the children,” said Labor department’s Regional Office Director Zenaida Angara.

To “rescue” the child workers, the Labor official designed and proposed an assistance project under the Workers Income Augmentation Program —a livestock raising project—in which the parents could increase their income by fattening hogs and raising goats and chickens.

The department provided a seed fund of P500,000 for this purpose.

The fund was coursed through the Guballa ES Parents Teachers Association, which set aside P270,000 on its own.

“By giving the parents an opportunity to earn more, they would hopefully wean their children from the salt mines and send them back to school,” Angara said.

The livestock raising livelihood project is expected to generate an additional income of P10,000 to P15,000 for the parents every six months.

“With the project, the DOLE hopes that [those who left] Guballa Elementary School [before finishing] will return,” said Angara.

“The salt fields can wait, but the education of the children could not,” Ramirez said.
“Studying could provide the children a more stable future, but not the salt fields,” she added. –Rommel C. Lontayao, Manila Times

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