Issue of January 8, 2017
     
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Benguet
 
OPINION
 

66th Courier Anniversary Issue
 
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Stop child labor, protect vulnerable children

Worldwide, as many as 168 million children have jobs. They earn a few cents an hour and they simply do not have enough time to go to school and improve their future prospects.

In the Philippines, preliminary results of the Survey on Children conducted by the National Statistics Office in 2011 funded by International Labor Organization show that there are 26.617 million children five to 17 years old, of which 3.312 million were at work. Of those working, 2.097 million were engaged in child labor, 2.049 million of whom were in hazardous work needing to be withdrawn from such situation.

Child labor in the Philippines is the employment of children in hazardous occupations below the age of 18, or without the proper conditions and requirements below the age of 15, where children are compelled to work on a regular basis.

In the Cordillera, there are around 41,940 child laborers based on the National Statistics Office and International Labour Organization survey. These children are forced to work in plantations, mines, and factories as domestic workers and prostitutes. They perform exhausting work for many hours in a row, often in unhealthy and hazardous conditions. The work is physically, psychologically, and/or morally harmful for children.

Poverty often leads to child labor. Parents regard their children as additional sources of income. War, migration, and discrimination against minorities also lead to child labor in some parts of the country because the common belief is that child labor is “normal.”

Child labor comes in many forms. It can be visible or invisible. Many children work at dump sites, cut stones, and work in small factories, car workshops or construction sites. Some parents or their guardians send these children to go begging on the streets. Others work as prostitutes or domestic workers.

The worst forms of child labor are enumerated in Section 3 of Republic Act 9231 in four broad categories, to wit: 1) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; 2) prostitution or pornography; 3) illegal or illicit activities, including the production and trafficking of dangerous drugs and volatile substances; and 4) hazardous work or work that is likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of children.

Section 5 of RA 9231, amending Section 14 of RA 7610, prohibits the employment of a child as a model in any advertisement directly or indirectly promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco and its by-products, gambling, or any form of violence or pornography.

Children aged 15 to below 18 permitted to work in any economic activity not considered child labor, but not more than eight hours a day and in no case beyond 40 hours a week. They shall not be allowed to work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day, and employer should provide the child with access to at least elementary and secondary education.

The Department of Labor and Employment is the national government agency responsible for formulating policies, the implementation of programs, and they serve as the policy-coordinating program arm of the Executive Branch in the labor and employment field. They are leading the networks in the progressive eradication of child labor through protecting, preventing, and removing the children out of the hazardous and exploitative works, which also includes curing and redeeming them back into society.

The DOLE projects, programs, and activities are: Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL). The PPACL and its network of mutually enabling social partners work towards the prevention and progressive elimination of child labor through protection, withdrawal, healing and reintegration of child workers into a caring society; the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program; HELP ME or the Health, Education and training, Livelihood, Protection and prevention, and Monitoring and Evaluation Program; Project Angel Tree (Lapis, Papel Atbp); Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa or Kasama Project; Eliminating Child Labor in the Tobacco Industry Project, and Integrated Services for Migratory Sugar Workers Project; Special Program for the Employment of Students; Child-Labor Free Barangays; and the Child Labor free establishment.

The DOLE also enforces national laws as member of the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking as "The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act" (RA 9208) and "Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act" (RA 9231).

For more information about the PPACL, visit us @ www.dole.gov.ph or visit the Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System @http://clkss.org.ph/, a tool that supports the PPACL in sharing relevant data real-time, fostering communication, improving program monitoring and automating child labor case referrals.

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