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Marines, PDEA join BARMM anti-child labor bloc

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 11:15 AM Thu Sep 21, 2023
John Felix Unson
The continuing anti-child labor forums in the Bangsamoro region started in May 2023. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Navy’s Philippine Marine Corps are the latest addition to the large group addressing child labor and the use of children as combatants in southern provinces.

During workshops here that started Monday, representatives of the PDEA-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the 1st Marine Brigade pledged to support the campaign, being pushed forward by the Bangsamoro labor ministry, the International Labour Organization, the government of Japan, the Integrated Resource Development for Tri-people and the Development Academy of the Bangsamoro.  

Poverty and underdevelopment due to decades of secessionist strife and children’s lack of access to schools are blamed for the widespread child labor problem besetting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The ILO, which is an agency of the United Nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Japan are the main benefactors of the cross-section efforts to address child labor and the use of children as warriors in BARMM’s six provinces and three cities.

The continuing workshops being facilitated since May 2023 by the ILO, the Ministry of Labor and Employment-BARMM, the IRDT and the DAB aims to generate support for programs meant to mitigate child labor via inter-agency socio-economic and humanitarian interventions.

Bai Sara Jane S. Sinsuat, director of the MoLE’s Bureau of Employment, Promotion, and Welfare, and Said I. Abdulkasan, a senior DAB staff member, were among the resource persons who lectured extensively on the anti-child labor measures of BARMM and cooperating entities.

“It is a concerted effort. It's gaining headway,” Sinsuat said.

Sinsuat and Abdulkasan had both acknowledged that besides the past Moro rebellion for self-governance, the culture of “rido,” or clan wars, condones the arming of children as protection from rival families.

Donnie M. Jagmol, a senior agent of PDEA-BARMM and 2nd Lt. Robee Dale B. Orpiano of the 5th Marine Battalion under the 1st Marine Brigade in Maguindanao del Norte province, separately said Wednesday their superiors support the programs and are keen on embarking on complementing community activities.

Kalma Jikiri-Isnain, director of IRDT which has extensive anti-child labor programs in southern cities and provinces, said she is grateful to the foreign entities supporting their campaign against child labor and the use of children as combatants.

“We can only succeed if we remain solidly together in furthering this initiative,” Jikiri-Isnain said.

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