4 minors among dead in Pantukan landslide

PANTUKAN, Compostela Valley — Authorities have confirmed that four minors were among the 14 people who died in a deadly landslide that hit a small mining area here last April 22.

The dead children are aged between 12 and 17 years old but officials cannot confirm if they worked as miners or simply stayed in the area with their relatives working in the mining site.

Disaster officials have identified the dead minors as John Ric Torrejos, 15; Pio Dennis Calapis, 17; Cristituto Torrejos Jr., 12; and Alejandro Justol, 16.

Justol’s body was recovered on April 30 but his mother identified it few days later.

Danding Labanan, a miner and a blacksmith, admitted that three of his children also live with him, at that time, in the mining area. He said they only do this though when they have no classes.

Labanan works as a blacksmith creating metal pegs which the miners use in carving tunnel. He said he only earn P150 per peg, not enough to send his children to school and provide food in their table. Thus, Labanan moonlights as a tunnel worker.

Asked if he would also allow his minor children to work inside the mining tunnels, Labanan said he would not because he knows how dangerous it is.

 Eight more miners are officially missing and authorities fear some of them could be minors as well.

The Department of Labor (Dole) earlier raised alarm on minor working as miners.

Dole Regional Director Joffrey Suyao vowed to review and monitor compliance with anti-child labor policies and programs in the entire Davao Region.

Suyao cited the need to monitor strict compliance with anti-child labor practices in all industries in the region, including mining firms.

He said that last year, they entered into an agreement with Maragusan town in Compostela Valley province seeking to grant a P1 million reward to the municipality if it records no violation of anti-child labor practices.

He lamented however that during their visit to the landslide site, he learned that even the local government is not aware the minors have been employed in the mining area.



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