The Department of Labor and Employment lauded the efforts of the National Council Against Child Labor (NCACL) and its social partners in fighting child labor.
This came after the Special Release on Working Children Situation published by the Philippine Statistics Authority on July 25 recorded a decline in the number of child laborers in 2022 at 828,000 children who were engaged in child labor in 2022 out the 1.48 million working children in the country.
This translated to an 11.4 percent drop from 935,000 child laborers out of a total of 1.37 million working children in 2021.
Under the law, the minimum employable age in the country is 15. Children 15 to below 18 years of age are legally allowed to get employed or work provided that they are not engaged in child labor.
Child labor is any work or economic activity performed by a child that subjects them to any form of exploitation or is harmful to his/her health and safety, physical, mental, or psychosocial development.
“The decrease in the number of child laborers shows the continued support and efforts of the department and its social partners in preventing and eliminating child labor in the country,” said Labor Sec. Bienvenido Laguesma in a statement.
“We will not stop until we reach our target of zero child laborers under Chapter 3 of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” he added.
It also identified the agriculture sector as still the top industry with the most number of child laborers and tagged Soccsksargen with the highest child labor incidence.
Aside from the continuous push for anti-child labor campaigns, the NCACL, which is being chaired by the Department, approved the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) Strategic Framework covering 2023-2028 in March this year.
Laguesma said this reinforces the department’s commitment to end child labor together with other members of the NCACL as well as its social and international development partners.
Laguesma added they will continue to strengthen its Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program, the Department’s contribution to the PPACL, by employing a strategic and holistic approach to address child labor especially those working in hazardous environments.
From 2018 to 2022, a total of 620,556 child laborers have been profiled by the DOLE, 614,808 have been referred for the provision of necessary services and 138,460 child laborers have been provided with necessary services.
Services provided to these child laborers include educational assistance, medical assistance, legal assistance, counseling, birth registration, and provision of school supplies, hygiene kits, and food packs, among others while the families of these child laborers received various services such as livelihood assistance, emergency employment, job placement/employment facilitation, skills training, financial assistance, medical assistance, housing assistance, and inclusion to DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
These services have contributed to the removal of 148,331 children from child labor since the DOLE initiated the profiling of child laborers in 2018.
For 2023, DOLE regional offices have been monitoring the status of the profiled child laborers by conducting field visits in order to track their progress and facilitate their removal from child labor.
Based on the results of the monitoring activities, the DOLE will determine if the child has already been removed from child labor or if necessary assistance should still be provided to the child laborer and his/her family.
The DOLE has also been working on improving mechanisms to report child labor incidence through the recently launched Batang Malaya Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System, a website accessible through https://batangmalaya.ph, which features a reporting module that the public can use to report child labor incidents.
The DOLE and the Council for the Welfare of Children have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the Makabata Helpline, a mechanism for reporting and facilitating coordination and assistance for child protection-related emergency situations, including child labor.
The agency also vowed to intensify its advocacy activities using quad-media platforms to raise awareness and gather support in the campaign against child labor, strengthen the capacity of its personnel, provide stronger protection for working children through policy issuances consistent with Republic Act 9231, and consolidate its various programs that could provide assistance to child laborers and their families including its Kabuhayan Program, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers, Special Program for Employment of Students, Government Internship Program, JobStart Philippines Program, and Project Angel Tree.
To ensure the protection of working children, the department has prioritized the inspection of establishments employing children and will continue to rescue child laborers in extremely abject conditions through the Sagip Batang Manggagawa and other similar mechanisms. – PNA