Solons seek probe on children forced to work like carabaos
Manila, Philippines – Two lawmakers have sought a congressional inquiry on reports that children in several provinces and towns in Mindanao are being forced into hard labor to the detriment of their health.
Alarmed by the reports, Reps. Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez (Abante Mindanao party-list) filed House Resolution (HR) No. 2422 seeking to look into the report and immediately put a stop to these abuses as the children called “Batang Kalabaw” are being made to risk their lives and sacrifice their youth and their future.
In filing the resolution, the Rodriguezes urged the House Committee on Welfare of Children to summon the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and other agencies and entities to shed light and resolve the issue.
Citing reports, the Rodriguezes said the children from Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, and Surigao del Norte have stopped going to school and are forced to drag and push lumber twice or thrice their weight and size for a fee of P50 or less each, taking the place of carabaos.
“These children from impoverished families expose themselves to dangers as they drag and push logs on slippery slopes just so they can be paid a measly sum with the consent of parents and under the noses of government officials,” they said.
The Rodriguezes said the parents of these children should also be held accountable as they are the ones who are supposed to provide for their children and not the other way around.
In seeking the probe, they cited Section 13, Article 2, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which declares that the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall also indicate in the youth patriotism and nationalism and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.
The Rodriguezes likewise cited Section 3, Paragraph 2, Article 15 of the Constitution which affirms that the State shall defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development. (Rolly T. Carandang)
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