The local government of Catanauan, Quezon Province recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the local adoption of the Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood, and other Development Interventions (SHIELD) against Child Labor program. 

In a simple ceremony held last May 20, 2021, the local government, represented by Mayor Ramon Orfanel, and the Department, represented by Field Office IV-A Dir. Marcelo Nicomedes Castillo, signed the MOA which formalizes the LGU’s spearheading of the implementation of the said program as a means to address child labor issues in the locality.

The SHIELD against Child Labor program is a comprehensive project developed by the DSWD towards strengthening local efforts and convergence of services to help children engaged in child labor as well as their respective families.

Since 2017, the municipality of Catanauan has been one of the municipalities nationwide where the SHIELD against Child Labor program was pilot tested. A total of 97 child laborers from 72 families in three barangays in Catanauan were provided with various interventions such as educational and livelihood assistance among others.

“Nabawasan ang child labor sa tatlong barangay dahil sa programa. Umaasa kami na ang proyektong ito ay kaya naming i-sustain sa lahat ng barangay dito sa Catanauan,” shared Mayor Ramon Orfanel during the MOA signing ceremony.

Through the convergence of services of the national and local governments as well as capacitating local partners down to the barangay level, 90 out of the 97 child laborers identified in Catanauan were successfully withdrawn from child labor and are all back in school.

“Dahil po sa SHIELD, natulungan akong makabalik sa pag-aaral. Kahit na mas matanda ako sa aking mga kaklase, hindi naging problema ‘yun dahil mahalaga na nag-aaral ako para maging pulis ako o maging seaman,” shared John Andrie Advincula, 17, a former child laborer and beneficiary of the program from Brgy. Poblacion 7.

Advincula was engaged in deep sea fishing and stopped schooling when he was in Grade 4. Currently, he is in Grade 7.

“Isang malaking pasasalamat po ng Kagawaran sa lokal na pamahalaan ng Catanauan sa pagsusulong ng programang ito. Kinikilala namin ang malaking bahagi ng LGU sa pangangalaga sa mga batang biktima ng child labor,” said DSWD Field Office IV-A Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes Castillo during the ceremony.

With the signing of the MOA, the LGU of Catanauan will lead the implementation of the program and will allot resources towards continuously helping the children and their families and expand its implementation in all barangays of the locality.***