MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday likened child labor to modern day slavery and urged the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine National Police to shut down companies who employ child workers for hazardous work.
"High incidence of child labor illustrates the hard economic circumstances of the Filipino families, that even children at an early age are forced to finance their personal needs, source their own school allowance and assist their parents in providing the family's needs," he said.
"Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals take advantage of this situation - the innocence of the child on human and labor rights, and cheap labor costs - by employing kids as laborers. We must take serious, hard-line stance against child labor and apprehend offenders at once," he added.
The lawmaker cited Republic Act 9231 (An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor) which prohibits employment of children below 15 years old, except under some cases. The same measure also states that a child 15 years old but below 18 years old shall not be allowed to work for more than 8 hours per day and in no case beyond 40 hours per week.
The 2011 Survey on Children conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that 5.59 million children aged 5 to 17 were already working. Of this number, 2.993 million were reported to be exposed to hazardous labor.
Estrada said children must cultivate learning in educational institutions and not in unsafe worksites. "Our children must be encouraged to go to school to learn and become globally competitive individuals as they are the future leaders of our country," he said.