For the LGU-Tacurong City, there are two special reasons to celebrate June 12. Almost a thousand Tacurongnons may have felt the same.

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Just before the sun rose on June 12, Tacurongnons gathered at the city hall grounds ready for #FREE Fun Run. This event was staged to show support to the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) in its #FREE or Fight for our Rights, End Exploitation campaign.

‘Raising awareness to fight for children’s freedom from abuse could be one of the most significant ways to celebrate our freedom as Filipinos,’ said City Councilor Psyche M. Sucaldito.

After the #FREE Fun Run, city and barangay officials with Task Force Talakudong led the wreath-laying and flag-raising ceremony for the observance of the 116th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence.

LGU Tacurong City also invited the 40 family-beneficiaries of Project PAGLAUM under DILG’s MDG-FACES program. Children received new school bags andsupplies, while their parents received gardening tools. The 40 children, who are at risk of child labor, come from Purok Onse in Barangay Poblacion.

Chairpersons of five barangays, the Department of Labor and Employment XII, LGU-Tacurong City, Tacurong Police Office, and the Department of Education-Tacurong entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for child labor-free barangays. The five initial barangays were Barangay Poblacion, New Isabela, San Pablo , Griño, and EJC Montilla.

DOLE XII Regional Director Ofelia Domingo challenged the LGU and its 20 barangays to create strategies and mechanisms to help prevent and stop child abuse and trafficking. “Malaya tayong kumilos, manindigan, magbahagi para sa ikauunlad n gating kabataan,” said RD Domingo.

Based on the results of the National Statistics Office and International Labor Organization joint national survey in 2011, there is an estimated 3.21 million child laborers in the Philippines. Child laborers are those who are working in hazardous work environment and those who have worked more than 20 hours a week (for 5-10 years old) or 40 hours a week (for 15-17 years old).