HomeNewsPhilippine Church leaders call for intensified efforts to end child labor

Philippine Church leaders call for intensified efforts to end child labor

Results of a government survey noted that about 5,000 minors, with ages below 15 years old, are employed as domestic workers

Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines this week called on the government to exert more efforts to end child labor in the country.

“We need to intensify efforts to protect the most vulnerable, especially children,” said Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the bishops’ conference.

Results of a government survey released last week noted that about 5,000 minors, with ages below 15 years old, are employed as domestic workers.

The employment of minors is a violation of the country’s Domestic Workers Act, a law that aims to provide protection and ensure the welfare of domestic workers.

Results of the survey, which was done by the Philippine Statistics Authority, shows that 49,000, or about four percent of the total respondents of the survey, have ages 18 years old and below.

In a statement, the Department of Labor and Employment reminded households that it is unlawful to employ minors below 15 years old as domestic workers.

“If employers are proven guilty of employing minors … they can be penalized,” said Karina Trayvilla, director of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns.

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A fine ranging from about US$200 and US$800 can be meted on violators on top of civil and criminal charges that can be filed against the employers.

“This is a very sad and unfortunate reality for our children,” said Bishop Alarcon.

“While it may be a complex situation, indeed government and all sectors of society must strive to end this unfortunate situation as it opens children to further exploitation,” he said.

Father Melvin Castro, former executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the bishops’ conference, blamed poverty for the phenomenon of child labor in the country.

“Poor families accept any kind of work, at any age, in order to survive. Hence, the real issue is addressing poverty,” said the priest.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation. “We need all sectors of society to extend a helping hand, to protect especially the most vulnerable,” said Father Castro.

In 2012, government data showed that there were about 5.5 million child laborers in the country with ages between 5 and 17 years old, about 2.1 million of whom were exposed to environments that are considered hazardous.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 55.3 percent of these Filipino children undertake hazardous work in an agricultural setting.

Filipino children work in farms and plantations, in dangerous mines, on streets, in factories, and in private homes as child domestic workers.

Agriculture remains, however, to be the sector where most child laborers can be found at 58 percent.

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