With the aim of addressing the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL), including the prevalence of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) and violations of acceptable conditions of work, World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. (WVDF) launched the Project Against Child Exploitation today.
The Senior International Relations Officer of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), Marina Colby, J.D. introduced Project ACE. Funded by the USDOL, Project ACE is a technical assistance initiative to strengthen the government’s capacity to address child labor and violations of acceptable work conditions.
In his message, World Vision National Director Rommel V. Fuerte shared that the health and economic challenges that families and children face right now due to the pandemic highlight more significantly the need to pursue this project which protects children from exploitation.
“For the most vulnerable children, we are always glad to collaborate with USDOL, the government and our partners in the National Council Against Child Labor, the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking and the Inter Agency Council Against Child Pornography,” the head of the child-focused organization said.
United States Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Sung Y. Kim, represented by Deputy Chief of Mission John Law, Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Honorable Silvestre H. Bello III, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Honorable Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, World Vision Board Chair Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno (ret.) and other leaders of agencies, local government units and partners committed to work together against child exploitation.
The newly launched project’s director Daphne G. Culanag explains that as World Vision collaborates with DOLE and DSWD, Project ACE will assist in improving the enforcement of legal framework and/or policies pertaining to child labor and/or forced labor, in improving assistance services for victims, and strengthening partnerships to accelerate progress in addressing these issues.
“We believe these can be achieved because of continued interest of our government in child protection issues, as they ensure resources are allocated and more stakeholders are willing and able to engage in these efforts,” added Culanag, also a USDOL Iqbal Masih awardee in 2017 for her tireless efforts to protect children from exploitation in the Philippines.
World Vision has been working on child protection programs with USDOL since 2003. For years, it has assisted more than 100,000 children by implementing the following programs: “ABK” Initiative or the Pag Aaral ng Bata para sa Kinabukasan (Children’s education for the future); followed by “ABK2” called Take Every Action for Children (TEACh) Now; and the “ABK3” called LEAP or Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection to Combat Exploitative Child Labor in Sugarcane areas in the Philippines.
A recent COVID-19 rapid impact assessment done by World Vision in its covered areas revealed that the loss of income forces parents and caregivers to consider drastic measures that will impact the well-being of children, like sending children to work, including high risk jobs.