CHILD AID organization World Vision Philippines aims to establish helplines in local governments where forced labor, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse against children can be directly reported, an official of the non-profit group said.

“Our dream is that there would be hotlines for all the local government units that people can call to report any abuse, [a platform] that is immediately accessible for them,” Jun N. Godornes, Director for Resource Development of World Vision Development Foundation. Inc., told BusinessWorld in a video interview.

“Perpetrators would be more scared to conduct these [forms of abuse] because they could be reported to authorities,” he said, citing as an example the Quezon City government’s hotline for reporting cases of street children and child labor.

World Vision Philippines wants to expand its Project Against Child Exploitation (ACE) initiative, which seeks to conduct policy workshop trainings, fora, and regular meetings with local government units (LGUs) to strengthen their capacity in addressing child labor and sexual exploitation cases in their respective areas.

Mr. Godornes said they have already implemented trainings for LGU employees in Quezon City and Cagayan De Oro, with reference to Republic Act No. 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children.

“Not all of them can understand it (RA 11930) so we need to socialize it in a way that they will understand [the law further, making it] applicable in the context of their locality,” he said.

He said the partnership contributed to the establishment of the Quezon City government’s Sampaguita Task Force, which provides assistance and intervention to children and their families to protect them from forced labor and exploitation.

The Cagayan De Oro local government has also adapted village ordinances to closely monitor child labor victims and been conducting orientations on and campaigns against online sexual exploitation of children, among others.

“We can cascade these to the other provinces where we operate so they have a template [to follow],” Mr. Godornes said.

World Vision noted in its 2022 report that 10,609 cases of worst forms of child labor and 15 cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation were reported to Quezon City and Cagayan De Oro’s local governments since the project’s launch in 2019.

Mr. Godornes explained that a minor is considered a victim of child labor and sexual exploitation when they are forced into unsafe working conditions for basic survival.

“Until we address the issue on livelihood and food security, nothing will happen with all these awareness raising efforts we’re doing, that’s why it’s important to partner with local government units,” he said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz