- Undersecretary Maglunsod of Department of Labor and Employment,
- Undersecretary Muyot of Department of Education,
- Assistant Secretary Hervilla of Department of Social Welfare and Development,
- Mr Siebengartner of the US Embassy,
- Atty Gutierrez of BanToxics,
- Distinguished national, provincial and local government officials and representatives from workers’ and employers’ organizations,
- Members of the National Child Labor Committee and advocates against child labour,
- Colleagues from the UN and the diplomatic corps,
- Representatives from miners organizations, NGOs, academe and the media,
- Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [Good morning to all of you]
While we are gathered here, children risk their health or even their lives due to child labour. They bend their tiny bodies to carry heavy loads. They expose themselves to hazards and toxics chemicals to earn a few pesos. They injure their little hands, suffer cuts or bruises and bear the scorching heat of the sun. They endure abuses and long working hours for their family’s survival.
Child labour is complex and deeply rooted in poverty. The 2011 Survey on Children revealed that there are 2.1 million Filipino children in child labour, aged 5-17 years old. Agriculture remains to be the sector with most cases of child labour at 62 per cent.
Recent Labor Force Surveys showed that majority are boys at 66 per cent. More than half or 58 per cent are aged 15 to 17 years old, which is within the minimum allowable age for work, but still exposed to hazards.
Child labour also affects education. Strenuous work makes children perform poorly in school. They have no time or they are too tired, and so they end up dropping out of school. Poor access and quality of education, on the other hand, push children to choose work over school.
Along with poor access and quality of education, poverty and vulnerable employment among parents are also major drivers of child labour. The fact that most cases occur in the informal economy make it difficult to detect and to address child labour by traditional labour governance mechanisms.
The Sustainable Development Goals, under target 8.7 explicitly called for the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025. The Ambisyon 2040 of the Philippine government has envisioned a poverty-free and hunger-free nation and a middle-class society by 2040.
The achievement of these goals depend on ensuring that today’s generation of children are in school, and not in child labour for them to have good education and training needed to have decent jobs as adults.
The Philippines has ratified all key international conventions on child labour. This included the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 or Convention No. 182 and the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 or Convention No. 138.
Progress has been made to address child labour in the country. The annual US Department of Labor findings on the worst forms of child labour showed that the Philippines has made significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour since 2012 or four consecutive years.
Over the last decade, ILO projects have withdrawn over 75,000 Filipino children from the worst forms of child labour. About 5,000 families were assisted through livelihood and skills training and models of community-level action were developed.
In addition, the ILO extended technical assistance in strengthening policies and programmes against child labour in the areas of social protection, education and enforcement. Simultaneously, joint campaigns and partnerships were launched, including a Knowledge Sharing Platform to engage the public in the fight against child labour.
The ILO also partnered with the Philippine Statistics Authority to run the Survey on Children in 2001 and 2011. We hope, however, that the survey on child labour will be conducted regularly or integrated in annual surveys to gauge if we are on track in our goal of a child labour free Philippines.
More importantly, the ILO supported the country in its initiative to create and to strengthen the National Child Labor Committee or NCLC.
The NCLC leads the creation and implementation of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor, which has recently set a goal to withdraw one million children from child labour by 2025.
It is towards this end that major programmes against child labour will be launched today:
- the CARING Gold Mining Project of the ILO, BanToxics and DOLE, a project funded by the US Department of Labor,
- the SHIELD Against Child Labour Project of the DSWD, and
- the Child Labour module for the Family Development Sessions of the DSWD 4Ps.
Ending child labour requires strong commitment and collective effort. Your commitment to be one with the children in ending child labour is much appreciated. Thank you for being here today.
More importantly, your active participation and support to the programmes to be launched are vital to ensure a future without child labour.
Thank you as I wish you all the best for 2017 and success towards our collective effort of a child labour free Philippines!