ILO, PHL gov't strive to stop child labor

April 6, 2011 12:37 am 

By Janice M. Cave

MANILA, April 5 — Providing sustainable work to parents of child laborers is the key to stopping the unlawful practice among minors doing dangerous jobs, an official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Tuesday.

"If the parents have work and social services are accessible to them, the children can be removed from child labor," Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte told reporters in a press conference in Quezon City.

As of 2010, records show there were 2.4 million child laborers in the Philippines, most of whom were found in the provinces of Quezon, Masbate, Bukidnon, and Northern Samar.

"We recognize efforts to get children out of hazardous work and bring them back to school," Trasmonte said.

Under DOLE's Sagip Batang Manggagawa, at least 2,829 minors have been rescued in 1993 to 2010 from the worst forms of child labor.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the worst forms of child labor include slavery, sexual exploitation, and hazardous work.

ILO Philippines Country Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson said poor families are forced to send their children to work to survive, depriving them of education.

"Child laborers are often forced to drop out of school… children who have poor access to education often work to meet immediate family needs, and for lack of a better alternative," Johnson said.

Rodel Morcozo, one of the many former child laborers who worked as a gold panner in his hometown in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, said he only earned P35 for a whole day's work.

He said he began working when he was still eight years old to help his parents, who also worked in the gold mine, and his siblings.

"Hindi sapat ang kinikita ng parents ko kaya kailangan kong tulungan ang pamilya ko, kasi marami kaming magkakapatid… sampu kami," Rodel, now 25, said.

He said he managed to finish high school through the help of a senator who financed his studies.

Rodel, who hopes to finish computer engineering course this December, said he now advocates for the elimination of child labor not only in Camarines Norte but also in the whole country.

"Sana yung mga bata eh mag-isip na mag-aral at magkaroon ng maayos na pamumuhay… Sana katulad ko, matulungan din sila," he said.

The government and ILO are working together to strictly implement and strengthen the existing programs and policies to eliminate child labor. (PNA)

DCT/scs/jmc

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