MANILA, Philippines - Of the roughly 5.5 million working children across the country, more than half are in hazardous circumstances, the 2011 Survey on Children of the National Statistics Office said.
The report, launched on Tuesday by the International Labor Organization (ILO), showed that three million of the children, between the ages 5 and 17, are in hazardous child labor.
ILO defines hazardous child labor as “being likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals by its nature or circumstances. Children may be directly exposed to obvious work hazards such as sharp tools or poisonous chemicals.”
It said other hazards are not that apparent, such as the risk of abuse or other problems arising from long hours of work.
Hazardous child labor was higher among boys, with 66.8% as compared to girls at 33.2%.
Central Luzon (10.6 per cent), Bicol (10.2 per cent), Western Visayas (8.5 per cent), Northern Mindanao (8.2 per cent) and Central Visayas (7.3 per cent) registered the highest incidence of hazardous child labor.
The report is now more comprehensive compared to the previous surveys on child labor, which is why the ILO would not compare the numbers.
“There were revisions and improvements in capturing the overall picture of child labor in the Philippines. The 2011 Survey on Children used terms under Republic Act 9231 on the worst forms of child labor enacted in 2003 and international statistical standards adopted in 2008,” ILO said.
In 2001, there were 4 million working children, of which 2.4 were in hazardous child labor while in 1995, there were 3.6 million working children, of which 2.2 were in hazardous child labor.
Nonetheless, the latest survey has not estimated yet the number of children trafficked for work, forced and bonded child labor, commercial sexual exploitation of children and use of children for illicit activities and armed conflict.
“What is crucial now is to tackle and to monitor progress in reducing child labor on a regular basis,” said Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for the Philippines.
A recommendation has been put forward that the survey be done every five years to find immediate solutions, he said.
“Results of this survey will be used as targets for interventions both geographically and among specific groups by industry occupations. It is not just the role of the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, but also local communities since child labor often happen in unregulated sectors,” he said.
ILO also warned that the global economic crisis could further push the numbers. Globally, there were 215 million children trapped in child labor, 115 million of them were in the worst forms of child labor. The information was culled in 2010.
The ILO and the government also launched today a campaign against child labor.
The so-called “Batang Malaya: Child labor free Philippines” is a renewed action to end the worst forms of child labor before the global deadline of 2016.
The National Child Labor Committee, chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment, is calling for the following urgent actions:
- -Institutionalize the Survey on Children to regularly monitor progress;
- - Strengthen and rationalize the operations of the National Child Labor Committee by giving it a legal mandate, budget and a dedicated secretariat;
- - Improve enforcement of RA 9231 to ensure that all persons found to be engaging children in the worst forms of child labor are penalized;
- - Expand the reach and strengthen the capacity of the labor inspectorate to monitor child labor even in unregulated sectors;
- - Mainstream child labor in local development plans and integrate as conditionality in programs to reduce poverty including conditional cash transfers.