Education Secretary Jesli Lapus on Friday urged Congress to pass a law that would jail parents who fail to send their children to school.
He made his appeal after a bill calling for punitive action against such parents was filed by a lawmaker in the House of Representatives.
"All school-age children in basic education must be in school. That is the practice in other countries," Lapus told reporters.
He said poverty was not an excuse from depriving children of education.
The government provides free education at primary and secondary levels in the Philippines, but the education department has monitored high dropout rates, especially with children whose parents want them to help with farm or house chores.
"Education is life's greatest equalizer. It is also the number-one anti-poverty measure we can make," Lapus added.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who sponsored the bill, wants a penalty of six years in prison and fines of up to P100,000 ($2,353 dollars) for violators.