MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers should approve the reproductive health (RH) bill to help end child labor in the country, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Friday.
Lagman, the principal author of the RH bill in the House of Representatives, said in a press statement that the rising number of child workers in the country shows the government's failure to positively address the population problem.
As of October 2011, there were 5.49 million children at work, of which 3.028 million were considered as child laborers and 2.462 million were reported to be exposed to hazardous child labor, he said.
"The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity that is harmful to physical and mental development," he said.
He cited a new report from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the ILO that the number of child workers in the Philippines has breached the 5 million mark.
Lagman also mentioned the maternal death rate of 162 deaths per 100,000 live births in the country.
"Both maternal deaths and child labor will be reduced and prevented once the RH bill becomes a law," he said.
"The unremitting pregnancies of Filipino women in the marginalized sectors due to lack of information and access to reproductive health and family planning services and supplies largely contribute to the increase in child labor as numerous children are suffered to work in their tender years to augment family incomes," he said.
Lagman said child labor, which also results in a high drop-out rate in schools, threatend the country's target of achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education by 2015.