ZAMBOANGA CITY – Some 49 children in child labor situation and their parents participated in various activities prepared for them by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 9 on Independence Day, June 12, 2023, at the KCC Mall de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City.

In line with the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labor, DOLE 9 initiated this year’s Project Angel Tree, a learning session for parents of child laborers and campaign advocacy through on-the-spot poster making and mural painting contests.

“As a member of the National Council Against Child Labor, it is DOLE’s goal to advocate for the rights of every child to be a Batang Malaya. We work towards a child-labor-free Philippines as envisioned by the Philippine Program Against Child Labor,” said DOLE 9 Regional Director Albert E. Gutib.

As a joint activity, the Batang Malaya events were simultaneously held during the Malayang Trabaho Job Fair .

In the opening program, Councilor Al Jihan Edding, Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children and Family Welfare delivered a keynote speech recounting stories of abuse and employment of children and enumerating common causes of these occurrences.

She then shared the various initiatives that the LGU has spearheaded such as equal job opportunities through gender and development (GAD), construction of school buildings, scholarships and quality education.

“We are thankful to the DOLE and other agencies for bridging the labor gap. We are on the right track and with enough dedication and commitment, we can reach the parents so that they can send their children to school.”

Bringing joy to child laborers is Project Angel Tree, a component of the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) of the DOLE that aims to provide an array of social services that ranges from food, clothing, educational assistance or school supplies, and work and training opportunities made available by the sponsors or benefactors called “Angels” to the identified child laborers and their families.

Children received school supplies, slippers, hygiene kits and food coming from the members of the Security and Manpower Industry who stood as donors.

Ensuring that this advocacy reaches the grassroots level, farmer leaders, barangay captains and Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) members were oriented on Republic Act 9231 on CLPEP and its implementing rules and regulations.

For the #BatangMalaya campaign to reach more sectors of the community, artistic youths in the region were scouted to participate in the on-the-spot poster making and mural painting contests.

Marvin Jake Macansantos of Ayala National High School bagged 1st place in the painting contest followed closely by Ezeckiel Mae S. Villaflor of Global Technical School of Zamboanga and Jerich Gwyn R. Hoson of Ramon Enriquez High School at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

The group “Immurals” bagged the top prize for the mural painting contest with TAYCS and UCG at 2nd and 3rd place. Their mural paintings may be seen along the walls of DepEd Zamboanga City Division Training Center in Barangay Zone I, this City.

All winners received cash prizes, certificates and tokens. Non-winners were also given consolation prizes.END