Msgr. Merlin Logronio of the Diocese of Dumaguete, who heads the St. Ma. Goretti Development Education Foundation Inc., appealed yesterday for public support on efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in Negros Oriental and other places.
Logronio issued his call during his 64th birthday that coincided with the feast day of St. Ma. Goretti and the 14th year anniversary of the Goretti Foundation based in Bacong, Negros Oriental.
He said that since 2005, the Foundation has implemented several projects towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in towns and cities that have high percentage of child labor.
These were Ayungon, Bindoy, Bais City, Basay, Mabinay, Siaton and Sta. Catalina, Logronio said.
In Negros Oriental, a high percentage of working children were mostly found in sugarcane plantations, domestic works, and in deep sea fishing. These children come from poor families and many are forced into labor to contribute to household income for family survival, Logronio said.
He said the children’s participation in the labor force and their exposure to hazardous environment put them at great disadvantage to their physical, emotional, psychological and mental development.
As of the latest count, 7,828 children in Negros Oriental were withdrawn from forced labor and mainstreamed into formal schooling, Logronio said.
However, he noted that despite government efforts to reduce poverty, incidence of child labor is increasing each year as projects and interventions to eliminate the problem lasts for one to two years only.
There is a tendency, therefore, for children withdrawn from hard labor to go back to work and stop attending school, the Catholic priest said.
Logronio said the Foundation has designed a community-based mechanism to monitor child labor in potentially-vulnerable areas.*JFP
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