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For 17-year-old “Rico” *, the accident which happened to him and his two peers in their workplace is still vivid in his memory.

A few days prior to the accident, Rico was invited by his friend to work again in a soap factory in Antipolo City. Rico has already worked in the said factory in 2020 as a soap re-packer for four months. Accepting a new job in the same factory, his new task involved cooking and mixing soap ingredients including menthol, food coloring, and other chemicals in which he will earn Php 1, 400.00- Php 2,300.00 weekly.

Rico accepted the offer a day after his birthday, his work hours scheduled from 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

In the same week, Patricia Bayot and Laurence Salazar, assigned government interns under the Department of Labor and Employment-Rizal Provincial Office’s (DOLE-RPO) Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP), profiled Rico and other children who are working at the soap factory.

The government interns then reminded the children as well as their parents that working in the factory is prohibited by the law considering that their work schedule is at night and the hazardous nature of their job.

Conduct of further validation

As part of the profiling, CLPEP Focal Person Charmaine D. Baisa and Community Facilitator Flint Osric T. Gorospe conducted a validation visit. They went to Barangay Dalig where the factory is located to ask whether there was a filed report.

During validation, Baisa and Gorospe met Vonn Bryan Dela Rosa, Barangay Dalig Administrator, as well as the Barangay Police Security Officers and asked if the soap factory accident was reported to them.


Dela Rosa then explained that although they were informed that an accident happened, the Barangay did not receive any report or complaint from the affected individuals.

Baisa and Gorospe also visited the Antipolo City Police Station to gather more data about the accident. However, no reports were recorded regarding the said accident.

Painful memory

Rico painfully reminisced what transpired during that life-changing moment.

On his 5th day of working, Rico thought that it would be a normal day at work. He did not expect that a traumatizing accident would occur during his shift. He started his day normally, accomplishing his tasks as he usually does for the past days. However, when they started to transfer the boiling alcohol to another container, one of his co-workers accidentally leaked the boiling chemical on the stove near their workstation resulting in an explosion.

At first, Rico did not notice that he was caught on fire. “Akala ko noon wala akong sugat. Siyempre kapag nasusunog hindi mo ramdam sa una, manhid ka. Pero ‘nung itinakbo na ako ng Regalado [ng ospital], doon na halos mawalan ako ng malay,” he said.

Rico suffered 2nd degree burns on his legs making it hard for him to stand or walk properly. His friend “Jam” is in critical condition because of the accident while the other also suffered burns like Rico.

During the follow-up visit, Rico was asked if he could recall the details of the accident. Rico then replied that he chose not to think nor remember any details of the accident for it is still painful and traumatizing for him whenever he sees fire. “Ayoko nang isipin. Nakakatakot na kapag makakakita ka ng apoy kahit nasa lighter o kaya kahit nasa paligid mo talagang maiisip mo na naman eh. Hindi ka mapapakali kasi makikita mo ‘yung apoy na nakasunog sa’yo,” he painfully admitted.

Although the employer shouldered most of their medical expenses, DOLE-RPO also gave Rico a hygiene kit that could help him in cleaning his wound. The Department also gave him some school supplies for his face-to-face classes that he may use once he is cleared to go back to school.

To further assess his condition, DOLE-RPO referred Rico to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Angono to help him recover from the traumatic incident he experienced.

Despite his hardships, Rico is still optimistic that he could bounce back from the situation. Currently, he is enrolled as an 11th Grade in a public school in Antipolo City.

DOLE-RPO also included Rico’s parent in one of the priority beneficiaries of Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa Project in 2023. This is to give Rico’s family a source of income.

The story of Rico clearly shows the risks that the children always face as they work in industries that are hazardous in nature. Although children ages 15 to below 18 years old are permitted to work, considering 15 years old as the minimum employable age in the country, the Protection of Children Law or RA 9231 clearly stated that their participation to work that is hazardous and deleterious in nature are prohibited.

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