Jan 24, 2018 (Source: RO 9)
ZAMBOANGA CITY - The Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No. IX (DOLE9), through its Project Angel Tree, donated school supplies, hygiene kits and cash to 100 working children from the different provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula last January 15, 2018 at the new DOLE Office in Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City.

The rescued child laborers were identified and profiled through the effort of DOLE 9 field offices in partnership with the local government units of the respective cities and municipalities namely Brgy. Sangali in Zamboanga City, Brgy. Siloh in Zamboanga Sibugay, Pagadian City, Brgy. Gutalac in Zamboanga del Norte and Brgy. Diki in Basilan Province.

DOLE 9 Director Ofelia B. Domingo said in her welcome remarks that the Project Angel Tree is a component of the DOLE Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program which provides an array of social services that range from food, clothing, educational assistance or school supplies, and even work and training opportunities made available by sponsors or benefactors ('angels') to child laborers and their families. Services under the program include food, clothing, shelter, mentoring, livelihood, educational and medical assistance and other work and training opportunities for target child worker-beneficiaries.

She further added, "These children are supposed to be inside the classrooms holding pencils and notebooks and not tools. It is our desire that our Filipino children will be able to obtain proper education because that is their key to achieving their dreams."

The donations started to pour in as early as December 2017 during DOLE 9's conduct of the 1st Industrial Tripartite Council (ITC) Summit where partners from the private sector pledged their support in cash and in kind. Among the items collected were100 bag packs with assorted school supplies such as notebooks, pencils and various coloring materials. Hygiene kits composed of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and face towels were included inside the bags. More than Php 34,000 in cash was also donated to the children.

Dir. Domingo, Assistant Regional Director Albert E. Gutib and Zamboanga ECOZONE Chairperson Christopher Lawrence Arnuco together with private partners personally handed over the gifts and cash to the children.

Parents and guardians who accompanied the children to Zamboanga City are also recipients of starter kits under the DOLE's Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program or DILEEP and were invited to attend a Capability Building to equip them with knowledge and skills in handling their chosen enterprise.

In closing, Dir. Domingo expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all the benefactors who donated in cash and in kind to support Project Angel Tree benefitting the rescued child laborers. She added that DOLE 9 will continue to work closely with local government units and social partners for the elimination of child labor in the Region.