No Christmas break for tribal kids hauling logs like Carabaos in Mindanao

by Ben Serrano

December 17, 2010


            BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - For Indigenous People children or tribal kids  like Anthony, 12, Lito, 10, Annalisa, 8, Robert, 9 and Roger, 14, living in the hinterlands of Northeastern and Northern Mindanao where logging thrives, legal or illegal logging, there is no Christmas break in hauling logs from cutting areas to various log decks where log buyers wait



            Logging thrives in Northeastern and Northern Mindanao areas like in hinterland areas in Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental and some towns in Misamis province and four provinces of Caraga Region.



            And because use of Carabaos in hauling logs become costly, wood traders encouraged use of children or minors as substitute where hauling payment varies to the distance it is hauled and the size of the logs, the minors carry.

            In an interview, Anthony, 12, Lito, 10, Annalisa, 8, Robert, 9 and Roger, 14 (not their real names) admitted to this writer they skipped classes just to join other minors who made log hauling as means of daily livelihood activities.

            They admitted difficulty and very dangerous in hauling logs twice, thrice or sometimes four times their size aside from sometimes unbearable bodily pain after bone breaking day’s work.


            “Naanad naman mi Sir sa sakit sa lawas duna na gani namatay sa amo kay nasakit (We are already used of body pains, Sir, someone among us died due illness)” the tribal Higaonon kids in the hinterland areas of Gingoog City told this writer in an interview.



The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Gingoog City in their January 30, 2010 and subsequently consolidated reports on February 4, 2010 admitted truthfulness of Higaonon children hauling logs twice, thrice or sometimes four times their size in Barangays Eureka and Kalipay, all in Gingoog City.


This writer was able to obtain official copy of the NCIP-Gingoog City report.



            NCIP-Caraga Regional office, on the other hand, had no official report about tribal kids hauling logs although there were reports and this writer was able to witness children in Agusan provinces hauling logs in lieu of Carabaos.



            Higaonon Tribal Youth leader Emmanuel Ansihagan of the Higaonon Tribes in Barangays Eureka and Kalipay, all in Gingoog City which is part of Northern Mindanao, complained to this writer that despite of joint probe about alleged rampant child labor abuses conducted by concerned government agencies last January this year, Higaonon kids aging five to seven to 13 years old continue to haul logs as substitute of Carabaos.


Residents in Sitio Impaluhod, Barangay Eureka, Gingoog City in an interview by this writer confirmed existence of Carabao kids.


  Higaonon residents Ernalyn Tinaghanaw and Bernelia Kamahay of Impaluhod told this writer in an interview that parents of the “Carabao kids” allow their kids to work because of dire poverty due none availability of livelihood.



 “Their parents some of them already sickly were even the ones pushing their children to work, skipped classes sometimes hoping to earn extra money for their baon or even buy food for the family”, the two added.



Other residents in the area claimed the problem already caused alarmed from school teachers in Impaluhod Elementary School because of absences of the children in school.



On the other hand some residents alleged school teachers too were to be blamed because they arrived Impaluhod Elementary SchoolMonday morning conduct classes in the afternoon and leave Impaluhod Thursday without classes already whole day Friday.



Angelito, 10, and cousin Angela, 9, both residents of Impaluhod who were interviewed by this writer said, they have been hauling logs since for two years now. They claimed hauling logs give them income for their food and school baon.



‘Gibayran man mi tag 20 pesos kada isa ka troso hakoton namo ug tag duha ka kilometro usahay tulo ang kahoy (We are paid twenty pesos every logs we haul in two to three kilometers distance)”, the two lumad children said.


The two added a companion of theirs, an eight year old boy, died in 2008 after the logs the boy victim tied in his body rolled fast into the hill bringing him along and pinned him that caused the boy's instant death.



Gingoog City Social Welfare Officer Napoleon Austria, Jr. in an interview by this writer at his office Friday admitted the existence of the Higaonon Carabao kids in hinterland Barangays Eureka and Kalipay saying he had been asking for a multi-agency investigation by NCIP, DSWD, LGU-Gingoog City, NGOs if there are any and other concerned government agencies.


Austria claimed that Higaonon kids hauling logs in lieu of Carabaos were clear violations of child abuse and labor laws.



However Austria admitted he has not gone to the area when this writer showed some footages and photos taken at the area last Thursday December 9. 



“Mabuti ka pa nakapunta ka na sa area at may nakuha ka mga footages ako wala pa, malayo kasi doon” Austria told this writer in Filipino as he promised he will go to the area once he has budget saying only hired single motor with expert driver can reached the area and no four wheel vehicles even 4X4 due to bumpy, bad roads. (PNA/Ben Serrano)