The Negros Occidental orovincial government, the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc., the departments of Education, Labor and Employment, Social Welfare and Development and Agrarian Reform inked a voluntary code of conduct for the reduction of child labor in the sugarcane farms in the province.
The signing took place at the Nature's Village Resort in Talisay City yesterday.
DOLE provincial head, Maria Victoria Mondragon, said code aims for a common understanding of child issues in the context of the sugar industry in the province and to enhance the involvement of stakeholders in the elimination of hazardous forms of child labor in the sugar industry
Through this initiative, Mondragon said, they also hope to provide policy guidelines, consistent with existing Philippine laws, for the elimination of hazardous child labor in the sugar industry, protect the welfare, and promote the wellbeing of every child.
Vice Governor Eugenio Lacson said the province is thankful that the voluntary code of conduct was adopted to eliminate child labor in the sugarcane field.
Lacson said every parent should understand that children must be in school and not in the sugarcane fields. He admitted that child labor in the sugarcane fields in Negros Occidental is rampant, especially during the milling season.
SIFI president Edith Villanueva said their organization had been conducting consultations with government agencies in the past five months before they came up with the code.
Villanueva said they classified the children into two – those below 14-years-old and those between 15 and17 years-old.
Those under 14 are prohibited from working in the fields while those who are between 15 and 17 years old can work during weekends only, provided that their jobs are not hazardous.
The 2011 National Statistics Office survey, show that 5.49 million are economically active, 30.3 million are into child labor and the rest are working under hazardous conditions.
The survey also added that 7 out of 10 children who are into hazardous labor are at the same time attending school but they tend to drop-out as they grow older.
Of the 2.99 million children who are in hazardous work, 62 percent or 1.8 million are in agricultural sector like sugarcane industry.
But Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said there is no child labor in the sugar industry.
But he said there are piece work contracts where children help their patents in the field after school.*APN