July 24, 2024

June 12 marked the 122nd anniversary of the declaration of Philippine independence with this year’s theme “Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa bansang malaya, nagtutulungan, at ligtas (Freedom 2020: Towards a free, united, and safe nation) and this very important event in the country’s history coincides with the celebration of the World Day Against Child Labor (WDACL), a day to raise awareness and prompt action to stop child labor in all forms.
The International Labor Organization launched the WDACL in 2002 and since then, the day has focused attention on the prevalence of child labor throughout the world and the action and efforts essential to eliminating it.
Author and poet Oscar Wilde’s statement that the best way to make children good is to make them happy, is true, as children are the future of our world. But in this day and age, there is a growing concern about the number of children, who instead of being in schools or at play, are being forced to work so they can survive. Instead of toys to play with, they are given a hammer and chisel to make a living.
This years’ celebration of WDACL focuses on the impact of crisis on child labor. The Covid-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labor market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. The crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labor.
In the country, there are initiatives aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which targets to reduce the cases of child labor by 30 percent or 630,000 from the estimated 2.1 million child laborers nationwide by 2022. In the Cordillera, close to 42,000 children are child laborers or children at risk to child labor.
The Department of Labor and Employment being the lead agency in the for the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) works to transform the lives of child laborers, their families, and communities, towards their sense of self-worth, empowerment and development.
The institutionalized National Child Labor Committee towards better coordination of its members and partners at all levels has issued policies and guidelines issued to institutionalize the national, regional, provincial, and municipal/city child labor committees. The inter-agency arrangements made on the identification, profiling, rescue, referral and management of child laborers in the informal economy.
The HELP ME Convergence Program Against Child Labor is pursuant to and aligned with Republic Act 9231, or the law that seeks to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child, amending Republic Act 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Act, Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and other related laws which declare the policy of the State to provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.
The HELP ME Convergence Program will engage several government agencies to deliver services to child laborers and their families to combat child labor.