DoLE, ILO seek end to worst forms of child labor by 2016

Published by rudy Date posted on April 6, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – There are at least 2.4 million working children in the Philippines and the target is for government to end the worst forms of child labor in five years, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said Tuesday.

“When it comes to child labor, the Philippines is not an isolated case. I’ve worked in different parts of Asia and the Middle East, and the root cause of child labor is really poverty. The poor people’s only option is to offer labor,” said ILO Philippines Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson.

In the Philippines, child laborers are often deprived of a decent education and robbed of their childhood in order to help alleviate their families from the depths of poverty.

Many of them have to risk their health and safety to put food on the table. Some of them have even sacrificed their dignity just to earn some money.

“It’s one thing to say that child labor is wrong, but another thing to get together and find a solution to it. The poor families have to do what they can to survive,” said Johnson.

It is this dismal fact that got the ILO and other government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) working to remove these children from the worst forms of employment, or those that exploit children and negatively affect their schoolwork. Some examples of these are mining, agriculture, and even prostitution.

Through the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), concerned agencies will remove children from throes of the worst forms of employment by providing their parents with the opportunity to earn. Other members of the family will also be provided with alternative incomes.

“We need to be holistic in our approach in eliminating child labor,” said DoLE Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte. “For while we are eliminating illegal employers, others are entering the scene.”

It is the goal of the ILO to fully eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016. “Effective elimination of child labor can only be achieved at the country level,” said Johnson. “The ILO is not against children working, but we are against children being exploited or taken advantage of. Children should not be given jobs that interfere with their education.”

During the press conference held Tuesday, a former child laborer Rodel C. Morcozo from Camarines Nortes almost burst into tears as he recounted the tribulations he had to go through as a child. –Manila Bulletin

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