ILO survey: 5.5 million working children in the Philippines

The government has announced it is scaling up the campaign to put an end to the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

News | 27 June 2012
MANILA (ILO News) – A new ILO survey in the Philippines reveals the number of working children aged 5 to 17 reached almost 5.5 million in 2011.

Almost 3 million of these children were in hazardous child labour, which is considered as one of the worst forms of child labour.

There are approximately 29 million children aged 5 to 17 in the Philippines.

See ILO press release for more information.

The last time a survey was carried out (in 2001), there were 4 million working children, of which 2.4 were in hazardous child labour.

The authors of the survey caution however, that the 2001 results are not strictly comparable to the new findings.

As a reaction, the government of the Philippines announced that it would step up the fight against child labour.

We have to get to the root of child labour, which is linked with poverty and lack of decent and productive work."
Lawrence Jeff Johnson
The launch of a nationwide campaign against child labour aims to meet the deadline set up by the international community to end the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

“We have to get to the root of child labour, which is linked with poverty and lack of decent and productive work,” said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO’s Country Office for the Philippines in Manila.

“While we strive to keep children in school and away from child labour, we need to ensure decent and productive work for parents and basic social protection for families,” he added.

“It is not just the role of the government, but also of local communities since child labour often happens in informal and unregulated businesses,” said Mr. Johnson.

Globally, there are 215 million children trapped in child labour, 115 million of which are affected by its worst forms. A recent ILO report entitled, Tackling child labour: From commitment to action, found that progress in reducing child labour worldwide has often been outweighed by a failure to translate commitments into practice.

The ILO report recognized however the important progress made in a number of countries to improve law and practice, including a growing list of countries establishing national plans to tackle child labour.


Hazardous child labour is defined as being likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals by its nature or circumstances. Children may be directly exposed to obvious work hazards such as sharp tools or poisonous chemicals. Other hazards for child labourers may be less apparent, such as the risk of abuse or problems resulting from long hours of work.