Community support is critical in the reduction if not the total elimination of child labor, said a group of child protection specialists on national television during the recent national observance of World Day Against Child Labor 2011 (WDACL).
In an interview over National Broadcasting Network-4, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Education Director Raffy Mapalo said there is a great need to help families achieve decent living to prevent their children from falling into child labor.
“Being in school is the priority for children,” Mapalo said. “Work should be light and must be carried out only during their free time.”
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Assistant Secretary Ma. Theresa M. Soriano, on the other hand, called on the whole community - from the police to the families and their neighbors – to work together to ensure that children are protected.
Soriano recalled a case of sisters from Laguna province who were allegedly sold by their parents to a bar owner in Tacloban City. The 13-year old was tasked to toil in the kitchen while the 15-year old was forced to dance for the bar’s clients. Authorities were able to rescue the siblings through information gathered from the community.
Children in prostitution is one of the worst forms of child labor. Other forms of hazardous work include those in agriculture, deep-sea fishing and in mining.
Mapalo said partners under the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) are aiming at reducing child labor incidence by 2016.
For his part, Giovanni Soledad of the International Labour Organisation International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC) pointed out that providing livelihood assistance to augment and improve family income would help reduce child labor incidence.
Soledad added that the ILO will support the National Statistics Office (NSO) in the conduct of a national survey to see the actual picture of child labor in the country.
In 2001, NSO reported that some four million children are in child work and some 2.4 million are exposed to hazardous environment. (culled from Philippine Information Agency News Release as reported by Lyndon Plantilla)