Opening address at the lakas-sipa para sa batang malaya (kick-out child labour)

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the lakas-sipa para sa batang malaya (kick-out child labour), Taguig City, Philippines, 17 September 2013

Statement | Taguig City, Philippines | 17 September 2013
  • Undersecretary Lagunzad and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Our partners from government, employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Distinguished ambassadors and officials from the international community,
  • Colleagues from the UN Country Team,
  • Partners from the National Child Labor Committee,
  • Advocates in the fight against child labour,
  • Phil and James Younghusband and officials of the Younghusband Football Academy
  • Corporate partners, sponsors and volunteers,
  • Members of the press,
  • Of course, our dear children – future soccer stars with their families
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat

First, let me begin by thanking each of you for joining us and for your support to this soccer clinic. Sorry as you can tell where I’m from, I still have problems calling it football.

More than a decade ago, companies producing soccer balls asked the ILO for help in addressing child labour.

Back then, children rather than playing, were stitching soccer balls, often for long hours and in dangerous conditions.

By working with the industry and the communities, also by training and helping families of child labourers, we found out that parents – mostly mothers, could produce soccer balls of higher quality and quantity.

This helped improve the livelihood of families, their communities and the companies’ bottom line.

Parents were also given the chance to have a decent livelihood while sending their children to school.

I have two daughters who enjoy playing soccer. No parent wants to mortgage or to deprive children of a better future.

However, due to poverty and vulnerable employment brought about by lack of access to decent and productive work – parents are often forced to send their children to work, just so they and their loved-ones can survive another day.

According to the 2010 ILO Global Report, there were 215 million child labourers worldwide; roughly 113 million were in Asia and the Pacific.
Here in the Philippines, an estimated
3 million children were in child labour according to the 2011 Survey on Children.

When we say decent and productive work starts at home, we also look at the plight of child domestic workers.

Globally, 10.5 million child labourers work in people’s homes, in hazardous and sometimes slavery-like conditions.

In response, the National Child Labor Committee chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment scaled up its efforts to end the worst forms of child labour.

In 2012, the Philippines launched the HELP ME convergence programme and the Child labour free barangays.

The ILO supports this convergence programme in partnership with the US Department of Labor. In 2007, over 40,000 children were withdrawn from the worst forms but more needs to be done.
We have to ensure that services and goods we’re buying are free from child labour – from the food that we eat, the clothes we wear and consumer products we use.

We need to support our children to stay in school and ensure decent and productive work for their parents.

All these, along with the initiatives of the UN and the international community contribute to the goal of ending the worst forms of child labour.

It also part of helping the country achieve sustainable and inclusive growth under the Philippine Development Plan and the Philippine Employment and Labor Plan.

Today, I am glad to see that many have joined the call to help end the worst forms of child labour.

Let me thank the Younghusband Football Academy for running this clinic. As you may know, the children were formed into teams for a tournament in October.

Today, children were given the opportunity to play and practice soccer, sorry as an American of my age I still find it hard to call it football.

Children were given the chance to enjoy their rights and freedoms to play, to be educated, to be healthy and to enjoy their childhood.

With your continued support, we can indeed move towards this direction which is built on ensuring decent and productive work for their parents and guardians.

Before I end, let me also thank the NCLC and our partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations for their commitment.

I am deeply honoured as well for the support of the diplomatic corps, colleagues from the UN, our partners and sponsors including volunteers.

Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge each of them:
  • ABS-CBN as exclusive media partner,
  • Landbank of the Philippines,
  • Consuelo Foundation,
  • Wang Videography,
  • Imagine Nation Photography,
  • DOLE Philippines, Inc.,
  • SM Cares
  • SM Supermalls,
  • Post Ad
  • Blue Leaf Pavilion
  • Accel,
  • Molten,
  • Globe Telecom,
  • Kettle Foods Corporation,
  • Megaworld,
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center,
  • United Football League,
  • Gatorade,
  • ILO Manila Staff Union,
  • St. Scholastica’s College,
  • DMCI Homes,
  • U.P. Alpha Sigma Fraternity,
  • San Miguel Foundation,
  • Local government of Taguig.

Thank you for giving hope to millions of victims of child labour.

Thank you for giving a strong kick against child labour.

Together, let us keep our eye on the global goal of ending the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

It may be a challenge, but if we work together as a team, I believe it is possible.

Thank you and Mabuhay!