COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of Labor and Employment strongly collaborated with the International Labour Organization on the prevention and elimination of the child labor in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The campaign against child labor was fortified through the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan Against Child Labour (BRAP-CL), which was presented by DOLE Undersecretary Atty. Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio, Jr. during the forum on Thursday, March 9, in this city.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2020 data, child labor incidence in the region is third among all regions in the country with largest share of child laborers comprising 9.1% or 54,200.

As defined by the ILO, “child labor” is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

Atty. Bitonio who works in DOLE’s Labor Relations, Policy and International Affairs, underscored the vital roles of other ministries, offices, agencies in the region, academe, and non-government organizations including media organizations as potential partners to eliminate child labor.

Through awareness raising, provision of cash aids and livelihood programs, capacity building, and establishment of strong mechanisms with other stakeholders, the BRAP-CL intends to end child labor in the region by 2030.

Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim, meanwhile, strongly affirmed his support towards this effort. He stressed that the Bangsamoro Government guarantees protection of children from any exploitation.

“As we traverse the transitional period in the region, the Bangsamoro Government is –united with all of its relevant stakeholders– in its vision to achieve a fair and peaceful society,” said Ebrahim.

Ebrahim also assured the public that the government of the day will do everything in its power to deliver programs and services that Bangsamoro people have been long deprived of.

“Today’s occasion is one of many efforts of this government that only manifest our unwavering commitment to our vision of eradicating child labor practices across the region” he added.

“The government of the day envisions a BARMM that is leading the Philippines in eradicating child labor,” Ebrahim emphasized.

The ILO as development partner of the Bangsamoro Government in the promotion of decent work and social justice in the region, the Country Director for the Philippines Khalid Hassan, said the BRAP-CL as a roadmap, reflects the Bangsamoro ideals and aspirations where it helps ensure that no child is left behind.

“We count on you [Bangsamoro Government] as we continue to work together towards ending child labor in the Bangsamoro region and promote peace, social cohesion and transitional justice,” Hassan stressed.

Labor Minister Muslimin G. Sema, who described himself as child labor victim during the armed struggle, he took it into account in his strong commitment as a lead agency to work for elimination and prevention of child labor in the region.

“It is my moral obligation, my personal commitment, and my sworn duty to protect our children from any harmful engagement and work activities that will destroy their well-being,” Sema affirmed.

Aside from the technical support provided by the ILO, the organization also handed over eight (8) computer sets, furniture, Child Labor Training Manual, and other advocacy materials to the ministry for child labor unit use.

The CL Training Manual which comprised with 7 sessions includes a special session intended for Muslim-dominated audience. Highlighting Islamic perspective on child labor, it also relates on the teachings of Islamic faith to child labor issues. (MOLE-ICD)