Opening address at the Luzon regional convergence planning workshop on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Luzon regional convergence planning workshop on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, Clark, Philippines, 27 September 2012

Statement | Pasig City, Philippines | 27 September 2012

Greetings:

  • Officials of the Department of Labor and Employment
  • Regional and local officials of government line agencies and local government representatives
  • Members of the Regional Child Labor Committee and partners in the fight against child labour
  • Officials representing the national and local government, non-government organizations, employers and workers organizations,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!

It’s truly my honour to join you this morning for the regional convergence planning workshop.

Your presence here signifies your commitment and support to keep children in school and away from child labour.

If we are truly to achieve poverty reduction and economic growth in the future, then we need to stop mortgaging the future of our children.

In 2010, the ILO Global Report on Child Labour revealed a slow and uneven progress in the fight against child labour.

Globally, there are 215 million child labourers worldwide and 115 million of them are in hazardous work. The Global Report called on the need to intensify the fight against child labour.

ILO member States, which include the Philippines have committed to the global goal of ending the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

As I’m sure most of you here today are aware, the Philippines is a signatory to the ILO Convention 138 or the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, and the ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour. A national child labour policy, known as Republic Act 9231 and an action plan in the Philippine Program against Child Labour form part of efforts to put an end to the worst forms of child labour.

In 2011, the ILO, with financial support from the US Department of Labor- supported the National Statistics Office in the conduct of the 2011 Survey on Children: Child labour in the Philippines.

Preliminary results of the survey released in June, revealed that of the 5.4 million working children, 2.9 million were in hazardous child labour. Nearly 1.5 million or about half of those are in Luzon.

Being the front-liners in the fight against child labour, I know you’re aware that poverty is at the heart of the problem on child labour.

Families in vulnerable forms of employment often have no choice but to involve their children in work just so they and their loved ones can survive another day and put food on the table.

In the end, these children are forced to mortgage their future, risking their health and putting their lives in danger.

At the same time, we need to fully recognize the medium- and long-term negative impact on communities and the country when we allow their futures to be mortgaged.

Lack of access to basic socials services, especially education, is a contributing factor along with the inability of some parents to provide proper and effective parenting to their children. In reality, how many of these parents were also child labourers?

Child labour is a very complex problem, deeply rooted in poverty. We must address the disease and not only the symptoms through a combination of interventions focused on specific areas and sectors.

Our current activities are operating in the provinces of Quezon, Masbate, Northern Samar and Bukidnon to develop models of effective elimination of child labour within an area-based context.

In all these areas, the approach used has been that of convergence - different agencies working together, mostly government partners, to withdraw children from child labour and to prevent those children at risk of becoming child labourers.

Here in Luzon, specifically in Masbate and Quezon, convergence is happening as:

  • the DOLE supports livelihood interventions using a Value Chain Development framework,
  • the Department of Education provides formal and non-formal education services,
  • the Department of Social Welfare and Development gives Parent Effectiveness Seminars,
  • local governments ensure institutionalization through the Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children and the passing of local development plans and local legislation on child labour
  • non-government partners provide support through installation of child labour monitoring systems, advocacy orientations to communities, workers and employers.

The convergence approach works because all facets of the problem are being addressed collectively. The convergence further strengthens grassroots movement against child labour.

Addressing the problem at the grassroots level is essential to identify and respond to the problem.

We in the ILO are glad to hear about President Aquino’s call to the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster to have a convergence plan on child labour. This clearly shows the government’s strong commitment to address child labour and to allocate resources in order to intensify the fight against child labour.

We have supported this initiative because we believe that it is by working together that we can truly address the problem on child labour.

Let me thank Secretary Baldoz and the DOLE Team for leading these efforts to end the worst forms of child labour in the Philippines. Secretary Baldoz has personally visited barangays in the country even those in far-flung areas to ensure child labour free barangays.

Let me also acknowledge all of you for your presence and commitment to a brighter future for the Filipino children – a future without child labour.

Thank you and Mabuhay!