Six minors aged 12 to 16 years old were rescued from child labor in Las Piñas City, where a junk shop operator made them dismantle electronic components that exposed them to toxic substances like lead and mercury, the Department of Labor and Employment reported on Wednesday.
DOLE–National Capital Region Director Alan Macaraya said four of the minors were from Las Piñas, one was from Baclaran, Pasay City, and another came from Catanduanes province.
“The minors’ work includes dismantling and segregating electronic parts from old computer hardware and TV monitors, exposing them to harmful heavy metals like mercury and lead,” he said in a report to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
Macaraya said the National Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will file criminal complaints against Rustom Parana, owner of Bulate Trading shop in Zapote. The shop, which employed the minors as stay-in workers for about a year, was ordered closed.
“They worked for more than eight hours a day and were paid pakyaw (by the bulk rather than based on daily output). Most of the time, they were still working past 10 p.m.,” DOLE-NCR Assistant Director Nelson Hornilla told the Inquirer in an interview.
The workplace was also strewn with sharp debris like broken glass from computer and TV monitors, Macaraya added.
The minors were rescued by members of the Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Team, a composite task force composed of the DOLE, DSWD and the NBI’s Violence Against Women and Children Division.
The minors were placed under the care of the DSWD, Macaraya said.