Thursday Feb, 22 2024 12:16:23 PM

Foreign agency, BARMM fuse ranks versus child labor, combatants

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 09:30 AM Sun Mar 12, 2023
Edwin O. Fernandez
Bangsamoro labor officials and International Labour Organization representatives during an engagement this week. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY - An international donor and local counterparts are to stop together child labor in five southern provinces where employing children as combatants is a longtime tradition too.

Two representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Japanese Yasuo Ariga and Bharati, Pflug, who is of mixed Indian and German descent, and regional labor officials reached a consensus Thursday to collaborate in addressing both problems besetting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ariga is chief technical adviser and coordinator of the ILO-Japan multi-bilateral program while Pflug is the organization’s senior specialist on fundamental principles and rights at work.

BARMM Labor Minister Muslimin Sema told reporters Saturday the two representatives of ILO, an agency of the United Nations, even turned over to the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) eight computer sets, furniture, training manuals and other advocacy materials essential to anti-child labor programs.

The turnover rite was preceded by a six-hour forum on child labor issues, among representatives of different regional agencies and non-government entities, that the ILO and the office of Sema together facilitated.

Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio. Jr., who is undersecretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, resource persons from different BARMM ministries, Ariga and Pflug talked, one after another, about child labor in the Bangsamoro region and how stakeholders can solve such a problem via a multilateral initiative.

“The collaboration among the ILO, the MOLE and other Bangsamoro ministries and local non-government organizations is a promising breakthrough in addressing child labor and use of children as combatants in some areas in the BARMM provinces,” Sema said Saturday.

The ILO, whose headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland, is involved in programs complementing the Mindanao peace process that aims to put closure to the decades-old Moro secessionist strife.

Participants to the child labor dialogue were also briefed by Bitonio on the intricacies of the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan Against Child Labor.

BARMM’s chief minister, Ahod Ebrahim, had said in a video message that the regional government is grateful to the ILO and the central office of DOLE for supporting their campaign against child labor and the wrong use of children as combatants.

Records from Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the child labor incidence in BARMM is third highest among all regions in the country, with a 9.1 percent share in cases, meaning having thousands of child laborers in its five provinces and three cities.

The BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi.


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