- Board Member Pandi and distinguished officials from the Office of Governor Pimentel,
- Representatives from the government led by Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment, workers’ and employers’ organizations and the National Child Labor Committee,
- Partners and organizers – DSWD, DOLE and Ban Toxics,
- Parents and children from our partner communities, representatives from the civil society and the media,
- Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
When I was a child like you, my dream was to be a soldier. I was eight years old. At 12, I wanted to become a doctor like my cousins.
It is not easy to achieve our dreams, but what is important is that we do not give up.
We are here today for the World Day against Child Labour. This day is not about us, but this day is about you and for you, our dear children as our future. This is the time for us to listen to your dreams.
Many people are coming together for the World Day against Child Labour, every June 12. It started 16 years ago.
I know that there is another important celebration for the Philippines, every June 12, which is Independence Day or Day of Freedom for the country.
You can combine both and you have freedom from child labour. Freedom reminds me of my visit here two months ago. I was moved by the story of Barangay Malaya – Malaya means freedom.
In 2015, there were reports and photos of children from Barangay Malaya working in gold mining. Who among you are from Barangay Malaya? Did you feel sad? Did you feel any pain or fear?
Before talking about Barangay Malaya, let me explain first that the International Labour Organization (ILO) supports countries like the Philippines to promote decent work and to address child labour.
We work on many employment and work-related issues. By the way, the ILO will turn 100 years old next year. Yes, 2019 is the ILO Centenary.
The US Department of Labor funded the ILO CARING Gold Mining Project. ILO works with BAN Toxics, DOLE, DSWD and government agencies, workers and employers to help communities like Barangay Malaya.
The miners from Barangay Malaya did not give up and they are now registered with DOLE as a formal workers organization. They can now borrow money to improve their livelihood or their community.
Policies on mining operations were put in place. Child labour laws in the barangay were instituted. About 49 children are no longer in child labour.
The barangay is expected to receive the first People’s Small Scale Mining Permit in the Province of Camarines Norte. ILO believes that the legalization of small-scale mining is a key step on the road to sustainability.
The support that we provide for the transition from the informal to formal economy will help address decent work deficits and improve working conditions in the small scale gold mining sector.
Again, malaya means freedom. Barangay Malaya, with the help of all you here will soon be free from child labour. Miners will also be free from dangers or hazards. It is hard to work when you do not know if you can go home to your family safe and alive.
This year’s World Day against Child Labour is about Generation Safe and Healthy. It focuses on the need to end child labour and to improve the safety and health of young workers.
Around the world, ILO estimates 152 million children in child labour. That is more than the population of the Philippines. Globally, about 73 million are found in hazardous child labour, risking their health or even their lives.
In the Philippines, there are 2.1 million children in child labour. The Philippine Development Plan aims to withdraw 630,000 of them from child labour by 2022, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goal target 8.7 explicitly calls for the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025. Ending child labour thus should be at the centre of efforts to develop this generation of children and eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development in the long-term.
The ILO stands ready to support the initiatives of the Philippines in curbing child labour and improving safety and health of our young workers.
As mentioned, here in Camarines Norte, the ILO with the support of the US DOL implements the Caring Gold Mining Project with Ban Toxics and the Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions or SHIELD against Child Labour with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Under SHIELD, 564 children have been profiled and identified to be in child labour from initial data gathering, of which 264 have been validated by Social Workers of DSWD. To date, 102 of these children have been withdrawn from child labour. These children and their families have been referred for health and education interventions through the local government, as well as livelihood support for parents through starter kits from DOLE.
I can tell you more about this convergence of initiatives but we are here to listen to the dreams and stories of the children.
I am speaking to you as your big brother reminding you not to give up on your dreams.
To our leaders, partners and parents who are here, let us remember that the cost of child labour is much more than the cost of gold. The lives and the future of these children are more precious than gold.
My dream is no longer to become a soldier or a doctor, but for child labour to end someday. I hope that will not only happen in Barangay Malaya, but also in the Philippines and the whole world. I know we share the same dream, the same goal, which is a future without child labour.