Child laborers: Implement child protection laws

Child laborers reiterate their stand that they, too, have rights and these should be respected. They made this call when they gathered at Four-Season Hotel last Oct. 20,2009 for the Children's Month Celebration.

These child participants are beneficiaries of the World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. (WVDF), Educational Research and Development Assistance, Inc. (ERDA) and Rising Sun Association of Iloilo, Inc. here in the province of Iloilo.

The children noted that three years after the Visayas Children's Congress held in Punta Villa, Iloilo last May 20 to 23, 2006, many laws on child protection had been passed, proving that the children's voices were heard. However, the children demand that these laws should be implemented.

“The laws that should protect our rights and punish those who abuse us, were not fully implemented. We urge the government to implement these laws so that no child will ever be abused,” goes the children's statement issued last October 20.

One of these laws is Republic Act 7610, "An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, Providing Penalties for Its Violation and For Other Purposes". Then, Republic Act 9231 was established. It is an act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child, amending Republic Act 7610, as amended, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

“We reiterate our call that we should be loved, not abused; we are your wealth, not your money-making ventures; we should go to school, not forced to work; and that we are the future and we are also the present,” the children's statement reads. It was signed by representatives from ABK2, World Vision, Departmentof Education – Estancia, Department of Labor 6, Department of Interior and Local Government 6, PSWDO-Iloilo and the Local Government Units of Iloilo City and Estancia.

At the gathering, the child laborers were engrossed in visual arts and reading workshops while their parents and guardians gathered at one corner and were briefed on their responsibilities in ensuring that the children spend more time in school and that their rights are enforced.

(Published in The News Today)

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