The Philippines is joining the “Red Card to Child Labor” global campaign to end the worst forms of child labor by 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.
The Red Card campaign was announced at the close of the third Global Child Labor Conference in Brasilia last week. It has already gained the support of Hollywood stars as well as artists and athletes from the around the world.
A red card is used in several sports, including football, to indicate a serious offense.
The football link is particularly appropriate because children in some Asian countries used to be forced to work making footballs, instead of playing the game.
To mark the launch of the Red Card to Child Labor in the Philippines, about 200 former child laborers played in the Batang Malaya football tournament on October 17, in partnership with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and the Younghusband Football Academy.
The NCLC, chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment, supports the global campaign to boost national efforts to end child labor under the Batang Malaya: Child Labor Free Philippines.
The US Department of Labor has cited the Philippines as one of the 10 countries making significant advancements in ending the worst forms of child labor.
The other countries were Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Peru and Thailand.
In 2011, the National Statistics Office estimated there were 3 million child laborers (aged five to 17) in the country, about 99 per cent of whom were in hazardous work.
Agriculture remains the sector with the most child laborers but children also work in mines, on the streets, in factories, and in private homes as child domestic workers.
“Child labor as a complex issue is much related to poverty. Without access to decent and productive work, parents find themselves in vulnerable forms of employment. They are forced to accept or to create whatever work is available, at the same time, to send their children to work in order to survive,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
Globally, the ILO estimates the number of child laborers declined by one-third between 2000 and 2012–from 246 million to 168 million.
More than half of the 168 million child workers “are engaged in hazardous work, dangerous to their health, safety or moral development.”
The ILO has recognized that there is global progress towards ending child labor but has pointed out that the decline is still too slow to meet the goal of ending the worst forms of child labor by 2016.
According to the organization, the end to child labor requires strong political will and collective action.
Johnson pointed out that individuals can hold up their own Red Card to child labor by not buying goods or services involving child labor, not employing children as child domestic workers and reporting cases of child labor.
“Remember, [there are]three million child laborers in the Philippines. This means three million reasons for us to take action against child labor just in the Philippines and more than 168 million reasons globally,” Johnson said.
Many companies, organizations and individuals have supported the football tournament and the campaign against child labour by providing school supplies, football and school shoes, socks, jerseys, snacks and other items.
They included ABS-CBN as exclusive media partner, Landbank of the Philippines, Consuelo Foundation, Wang Videography, Imagine Nation Photography, Dole Philippines, Inc., SM Cares, SM Supermalls, Post Ad Ventures, Blue Leaf Pavilion and Accel.
Molten, Globe Telecom, Kettle Food Corporation, Megaworld, St. Luke’s Medical Center, United Football League, Gatorade, ILO Manila Staff Union, St. Scholastica’s College, DMCI Homes, University of the Philippines Alpha Sigma Fraternity, International School Manila, San Miguel Foundation, 3M Post-it, Royal Innovations Inc., Shining Light Foundation, Inc., Manila Genesis Entertainment and Management, Inc. and the local government of Taguig
also supported the campaign against child labor.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON