THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has declared that it is winning the war on child labor.
“We have made significant strides in curbing child labor in poor communities, especially its worst forms,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said.
Bello noted that in September last year, the United States Department of Labor, in its study dubbed Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, cited the Philippines for having accomplished great strides in its efforts to eliminate hazardous forms of child labor.
“This is the fourth year in a row that the Philippines was cited positively by the study. The study highlighted the assessment of government’s effort in eliminating the worst forms of child labor,” he said.
Bello also reported that as of November, the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns has certified 60 barangays as child labor free, bringing the total number of certified barangays to 219 since 2014.
On the other hand, the DOLE Regional Offices awarded Child Labor-Free Establishment (CLFE) Certificates to 38 establishments, bringing the total number of certified establishments to 199 since 2013.
The CLFE Certificate is conferred to an establishment that is not employing child labor and not using products or materials produced through the use of child labor.
The grant of a CLFE Certificate aims to promote compliant and socially responsible business practices as the establishment-based component of the DOLE’s campaign to eradicate child labor.
Anti-child labor policy
Bello issued Administrative Order No. 439, Series of 2016, or the Child Protection Policy of the Department of Labor and Employment, on August 16, 2016 which provides a framework of principles, standards, guidelines and procedures in relation to creating a “child-safe and child-friendly” organization; awareness-raising and prevention of abuse; personnel recruitment and training; management system; guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behavior; guidelines for communication regarding children; and recognizing, reporting and responding to allegations of abuse.
Yesterday, the “Makiisa Para sa 1 Milyong Batang Malaya” program also launched three major initiatives against child labor.
These initiatives include a first comprehensive project on child labor with set up of help desks, a new project on child labor in gold mining, and a new child labor module in the conditional cash transfer program.
The National Child Labor Committee, chaired by the DOLE, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Ban Toxics jointly launched the programs.
According to the 2011 Survey on Children, 2.1 million Filipino children are subjected to child labor.
“Child labor is complex and deeply rooted in poverty. Children suffer and risk their health or even their lives to work for their family’s survival. Ending child labor requires strong commitment and collective effort,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, who also managed projects that addressed child labor in Africa and Asia.
Meanwhile, the DSWD launched the Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions (SHIELD) as its first comprehensive program on child labor.
It will focus on areas with high incidence of child labor by making services more accessible to children and their families, among others.
The program aims to strengthen the capacity of local government units in eliminating the worst forms of child labor such as gold mining, deep-sea fishing and farming.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said in a statement that most of the child laborers are engaged in hazardous work especially those who are in the mining industry.
“We must immediately and urgently rally to respond to this concern because of the problem which is unabated. Children continued to be violated a thousand fold, especially those child laborers engaged in back breaking and hazardous work,” said Taguiwalo.
Interventions will also include improving working conditions and providing support to establish models for operation that are legal and viable as well as compliant with labor, environmental and health standards. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL and DEMPSEY REYES