Message at the Sectoral consultation with workers and employers for the development of the regional child labour action plan

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the at the Sectoral consultation with workers and employers for the development of the regional child labour action plan, 18 February 2022, Cotabato, Philippines

Statement | Cotabato, Philippines | 18 February 2022
  • MOLE Minister Romeo Sema,(TBD)
  • Deputy Minister Matarul Estino, (TBD)
  • Director Bai Jane Sinsuat and other MOLE officers
  • Atty Ronald Torres, BARMM Business Council
  • Distinguished guests, resource persons and colleagues,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

Welcome and thank you for joining us today! We share a vision of a peaceful and progressive Bangsamoro region.

The COVID-19 pandemic however poses challenges on peace and development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Of deep concern is the problem of child labour in BARMM. Latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed about 872,000 working children ages 5 to 17 years old in 2020. Over 68 per cent of them were in child labour.

Among our youth in the region, more than 73 per cent were in child labour, ages 15 to 17 years old.

Majority were found in agriculture, and BARMM relies heavily on this sector. These trends, and the COVID-19 pandemic should set the alarm bells ringing. Building a better future and leaving no one behind are crucial for a peaceful and progressive BARMM.

Child labour is a complex cycle to break. Former child labourers become parents of new generations of child labourers.

We need to accelerate action through a holistic approach. These include the need to support quality education and training, provide access to decent work and social protection for adults, and enhance capacities of communities and institutions to monitor and prevent child labour.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) under the leadership of Minister Romeo Sema organized this sectoral consultation with workers and employers.

MOLE is coming up with durable solutions through effective policies and legislative actions.

The regional child labour action plan will hopefully address bottlenecks, issues, and challenges.

Effective collaboration, information sharing and knowledge management are essential among government, workers, and employers with relevant partners and stakeholders.

The ILO further supported MOLE in the development of the Labor Code. Thus, it is crucial to align the regional child labour action plan to help provide decent work and address child labour in BARMM.

Employers and supply chains play a vital role to end child labour. The presence and support of the BARMM Business Council today is key to responsible labour practices and ethical business partners.

The ILO is ready to support the need to finalize the regional child labour action plan. The plan will also map out coordination and convergence of various ministries to address child labour.

Under the ILO Child Labour Project in BARMM funded by the Government of Japan, we will also support improvement of non-formal education services, and provision of livelihood. Partnership with relevant ministries and stakeholders in the region is critical.
The ILO will further contribute to enhance MOLE’s capacity on labour administration. This is in line with the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines, and the Global Call to Action for a Human-centred Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Today’s consultation is a big step to end child labour, and support education and training. We call on you to help bring positive change in the lives of child labourers and their families.

We also count on you to accelerate efforts as an urgent need and give children the freedom they deserve – freedom from child labour!

Shukran and maraming salamat po (thank you very much)!