Top officials of Benguet Federation of Scale Miners Inc. (BFSSMI) rebuffed the manner the Philippine Statistics Authority-Cordillera (PSA-CAR) collect datas on child labor. “The methodology of how PSA-CAR gets their data is very erroneous and unacceptable in a community of hardworking people,” Norberto Cobaldez, president of BFSSMI said through a text message.
“Their methodoly is good in other areas but not CAR.” “PSA-CAR and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLECAR) area alarmists agencies of government in Cordillera,” Cobaldez added.

Emerito Narag , assistant regional director of DOLE-CAR recently reported that the rate of increase in child labor in the region is alarming based on the data provided by the PSA-CAR. THE labor official said majority of the child laborers are in small-scale mining, construction and in agriculture. The small-scale mining official further said “ nakakita ng mga bata na siguro mabigat ng karga sabihin nila na child labor.” The PSA-Cordillera reported that the proportion of child laborer to working children ( ages range from 5 to 17 years old) in the region is 81.7 which the agency says “its high.”

It covers broad industry group to include agriculture, industry ( mining/small scale mining, construction, manufacturing, electric and water) In 2021 the total number of working children in CAR was estimated at 19,000 compared to 10,000 though its lower from the 12,000 mark in 2019.
Datas were based on Labor Force Survey (LFS),a Philippine standard way of collection. Earlier, the PSA central office reported that child laborers in the country increased in 2021.

The PSA states that child labor includes –hazardous work which encompasses undesirable activities or work done in hazardous environment; and work done for long hours more than 40 hours and/or night time or the entire day by children in ages 15 to 17. And those classified as other child labor—children below 15 years of age in excess of the allowable work hours or less than 20 hours ,covered under Republic Act 9231 as amended known as Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination.

“Ì beg to disagree what dole car is saying. Our culture here in the Cordilleras is that in the formation and growth of the child we always teach our children the basic way of life,” Cobaldez stressed. Alfred Bugnosen ,BFSSMI executive vice president for his part said: “ nabayag met nga
maipalpalagip dayta kadagiti kakadwa ta as per policy ti federation (BFSSMI) nga we will not allow minors to work underground.”

“While we also allow minors aged 16 to 17 nu suda ti breadwinner ti pamilya da ngem limited to work da idiay surface as cooks ken dadduma nga mas safe nga ubra idiay kampo ken gilingan,”Bugnosen explained. “ Narigat met ngamin nga saan ikkan ti income
opportunity dagi dyay sole breadwinner nga babaritos ta baka kitde awan pag biagan da ket mapilitan da nga sumrek iti criminal activities para lng ma biag da.”

Bugnosen has requested concerned agencies to permit them to see said child labor datas and as the need arises, ssm operators and officials have to be educated regarding laws on child labor.

Primo Agatep/ABN

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