Various government and non-government agencies on Thursday opened the new year by launching three major projects aimed to combat the problem of child labor in the Philippines.
These initiatives include programs against child laborers in the gold mining industry, as well as setting up help desks, a local registry on child labor, and a new child labor module aimed to raise awareness in conditional cash transfer beneficiaries.
These are in support of the Philippine program against child labor, which aims to take at least 1 million kids out of child labor by 2025.
According to the 2011 Survey on Children conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 2.1 million Filipino children between 5 and 17 years old are currently engaged in child labor, with a number of them performing physically demanding and hazardous work.
Sixty-two percent of these children work in the agriculture industry.
Khalid Hassan, the local director of the International Labor Organization (ILO), noted that even though the Philippines has progressed significantly to address child labor, there is still a lot to be done.
"Child labor is complex ang deeply rooted in poverty," Hassan said.
"The achievement of these goals depend on ensuring that today's generation of children are in school, and not in child labor for them to have good education and training needed to have decent jobs as adults."
Among the programs launched is the Caring Gold Mining Project of ILO, the Ban Toxics NGO, and Department of Labor and Employment. The project aims to eliminate child labor in artisanal and small scale gold mining.
"We have to start with the miners, gold traders, refiners and end users. We need to be sure that along the supply chain we put in place appropriate mechanism to ensure that gold is child labor free," said Lalaina Razafindrakoto, Caring Gold project director said, noting that besides the Philippines, the project is also being implemented in Ghana.
"An ILO report suggests that mining is the most hazardous for children in terms of fatal injuries, so it's a very critical issue to be dealt with," said Razafindrakoto, adding that a major objective is to increase monitoring in child labor and working condition in the whole supply chain in artisinal and gold mining.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also launched its first comprehensive project on child labor, the Strategic Help Desks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions.
The project aims to strengthen the department's efforts against child labor locally, by setting up help desks and a local registry on child labor for easier convergence of support services.
The DSWD is also set to integrate a new module on child labor in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to raise awareness on child labor on the role of the family to stop or prevent child labor.
Meanwhile, Labor undersecretary Joel Maglunsod underscored the importance of eliminating labor abuses including "endo," short for "end of contract," to address the problems of child labor.
"Yung child laborers, after-effect lang ito. Yung isyu halimbawa ng contractualization, yung mga magulang natin hindi stable ang trabaho, natural ang tendensya ng mga magulang natin ipupursige ang mga anak na ipatrabaho to augment yung pangnagailangan ng pamilya," Maglunsod said.
(The child laborers are an after-effect. For example, the issue on contractualization, parents who have unstable jobs have the tendency to push their children to work to augment the family's needs.)
"Kung hindi natin magagawa ng paraan para marepaso ang economic policy natin, magbubunga ng child laborers, babalik lang tayo sa sitwasyon natin," he added.
(If we cannot find a way to review our economic policy, it will continue to produce child laborers and we will just return to this situation.)