MANILA — The society must invest in children and make sure they are protected from harm and abuse as they are the future of the nation, a labor official said.
“Ang mga bata, sila ang ating future. Dapat sundin natin ang batas. Kapag ang bata matagal na na-expose sa harmful economic activity or work, magkakaroon ng problema sa kaniyang physical, mental and psycho-social development, ano'ng klaseng manpower tayo in the future?" Ma. Katrina Perida-Trayvilla, Director of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns at the Department of Labor and Employment, said.
"So we invest right now, mag-invest na tayo sa mga bata because we are also investing in human resource development,” she told reporters during the National Stakeholder's Summit of Councils and Interagency Bodies which aims to address the worst forms of child labor, including online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
The event was organized by the World Vision's Project Against Child Exploitation in partnership with the DOLE.
Child labor refers to any work or economic activity performed by a child that subjects them to any form of exploitation or is harmful to their health and safety or physical, mental or psychosocial development.
Perida-Trayvilla said December 2021 data covering 2020 from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that there were about 596,900 child laborers in the country, mostly male and engaged in agricultural work, many from Region X, V, BARMM, 7, and 4-A.
The number continues to decline, and Perida-Trayvilla credits the work done by the National Council Against Child Labor created in 2019 by President Rodrigo Duterte.
There is an increase, however, in cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children because of accessibility of internet and poverty.
Perida-Trayvilla said efforts will be done to continue the conduct of profiling to provide the appropriate intervention such as giving livelihood to parents of child laborers, providing an array of social services and partnerships to give health and educational needs, and doing advocacy work.
In her video message, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava expressed the embassy’s commitment to work towards eliminating violence and abuses against children.
“Together, we form an essential part of the village responsible for raising our children in a safe environment where they can flourish,” Variava said.
Carter Quinley, International Affairs Specialist for Asia, Middle East and Europe of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, lauded the World Vision and its partners for their work as champions to combat child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking especially online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
Quinley, in a separate video message, said the Biden-Harris administration is committed to decisive action to combat labor exploitation globally including the worst forms of child labor.
FROM THE ARCHIVES