Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Baldoz on Tuesday directed all Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional directors to intensify monitoring, rescue victims of cyber child pornography, and to be ready to mobilize their Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams (SBMQAT).
“Cyber child pornography is a form of hazardous child labor. Children should always be under a safe, protective, and caring environment. Sometimes, parents themselves are usually the ones who put their children to work in this kind of hazardous environment. If parents or guardians fail to protect their children, then, the DOLE needs to step in and intervene for these minors,” said Baldoz.
Baldoz clarified that the government is there to ensure that children are free from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination, or any condition detrimental to their development.
Launched in 1993, Sagip Batang Manggagawa is a DOLE advocacy program, part of the national strategy to reduce the number of child workers, especially those in hazardous work. It involves the creation of inter-agency Quick Action Teams that respond to cases against child laborers in extremely hopeless conditions. The teams’ tasks are to detect, monitor, and take action against incidence of the most hazardous forms of child labor, of which cyber child pornography is one.
Over the years, the Sagip Batang Mangagawa has responded to cases of child labor in extremely abject conditions, such as bonded/slave labor, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking for illegal employment, and hazardous work and activities.
Baldoz said children fall easy prey to exploitative child labor and hazardous types of work because of ignorance and poverty, which force them to work to contribute family income.
She explained that the efforts of the SBMQAT do not end at rescue and closure operations. As part of the inter-agency effort, the DSWD provides aftercare assistance to rescued minors, while the Department of Justice is responsible for filing and prosecuting criminal charges. The DOLE handles administrative cases and leads the teams, working with the DSWD, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, local government units, and non-government organizations in raids of suspected child labor lairs.
The DOLE also provides parents of rescued minors with livelihood assistance and skills training so they can start earning for their family. (DOLE)