Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged more convergence and harder work in addressing the issues on child labor and youth employment following the release of the inter-agency research cooperation project, “Understanding Children’s Work.”
“I urge our DOLE’s social partners, civil society, and other sectors to take leading roles and converge more with the government in addressing the challenges of child labor and youth employment,” Baldoz said during the launch of the report entitled, Understanding child labour and youth employment in the Philippines”.
The Understanding Children’s Work is an inter-agency research cooperation initiative involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank. It is guided by the Roadmap adopted at The Hague Global Child Labour Conference 2010 which called for effective partnership across the UN system to address child labour, and for mainstreaming child labour into policy and development frameworks.
The UCW Report examined the related issues of child labor and youth employment in the Philippine context. Guided by observed outcomes in terms of schooling, work activities, and status in the labor market, the report considered the economic as well as the social determinants of child labor and youth employment. The report used the 2011 Survey on Children and the 2014 Labor Force Survey as primary data sources.
Baldoz said the efforts of the government to address child labor problems and youth employment in the country are consistently intensifying and continuing. She noted that the UCW Report has validated her views on life-altering impact that child labor has on children either because of the cultural values of the community or forces of life circumstances.
“The high incidence of school drop-out rates, specifically, for male students aged 15-17 and its high concentration in rural places affirm the results of a similar study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which used DepEd administrative data on the observable high incidence of school drop-out rates for what they refer as the “last mile students” or secondary level graders,” said Baldoz.
According to the UCW Report, child laborers in the Philippines are clearly disadvantaged in terms of being able to attend school. The school attendance gap between child laborers and other children increases with age and is particularly marked at the 5-17 year age range. It also noted that working children who entered school are most likely to remain there for less time than non-working children.
Baldoz said that Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration has recognized the need for concerned agencies to closely work with each other to help face and address the issues of child labor and youth employment.
“The government, through effective partnership, has made progress in curbing child labor in poor communities, a campaign being waged alongside major projects to combat poverty,” said Baldoz.
She added that for three years in a row, the country achieved ‘significant advancement’ in efforts to eliminate worst forms of child labor. “In 30 September 2015, the United States Department of Labor, in its 2014 report on Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor cited the Philippines as having achieved significant advancement in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, the third year in a row,” said Baldoz.
The labor and employment chief cited the HELP ME Convergence Program, which was approved by the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster and NEDA Board-Social Development Committee during its joint meeting on 8 November 2012, as one of the community-based approaches of the government to address the child laborers’ multi-faceted needs.
‘HELP ME’ stands for the following: H – for health, nutrition and medical services; E – for education and training; L – for livelihood opportunities to parents of child laborers; P – for prevention, protection and prosecution; M – for monitoring; and E – for evaluation. The convergence strategy calls for bringing down the government’s child labor programs and services to the barangay level. Convergence covers the principles of, among others: shared vision, sharing or complementation of resources, accountability, sustainability and institutionalization.
On 7 January 2016, the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on the Guidelines on the Implementation of the HELP ME Convergence Program to Address Child Labor was signed by heads of the DOLE, DSWD, DA, DOH, DepEd, DILG, DOJ, TESDA, NEDA, CWC, PIA and NCIP. The JMC shall serve as the basis of engagement of partner government agencies in the convergence of delivery of services, from the national and sub-national levels down to the barangay level.
Baldoz also said that a total of 7, 584 children were removed from child labor through the Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign. “These former child laborers are all now in school and are being monitored by the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children so that they will not revert to child labor,” said Baldoz.
The campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays aims to contribute to the vision of a “Child Labor-Free Philippines” through influencing change and obtaining commitment and support from various stakeholders to make barangays free from child labor.
“The DOLE has always been steadfast in addressing child labor and its worst forms through a convergence strategy that brings the government’s child labor programs and services to the barangay level, the basic political structure, and to the family or household, the basic social unit in Philippine society,” said Baldoz.
She added that the Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign is complemented by another major anti-child labor initiative, the Child Labor-Free Establishments under the DOLE Incentivizing Compliance Program which aims to promote compliant and socially responsible business practices. In 2015, the DOLE Regional Offices conferred recognition award to 69 child labor-free establishments bringing to a total of 174 the number of establishments recognized as child labor-free since 2013.
Baldoz also reported that a total of 5,260 parents of child laborers were provided with livelihood intervention through the DOLE’s Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA). The livelihood assistance provided were in the form of livestock raising, Negokart and starter kits, materials for mat weaving and soap making, food vending or carinderia, and hair cutting and cosmetology sets.
In the area of policy development, the DOLE has taken the lead in reviewing Department Order No. 4, Series of 1999 (List of Hazardous Work and Activities for Persons below 18 years of age). This DO was issued 16 years ago and it is about time that we update the list considering that new forms of child labor have emerged since 1999.
The proposed amendments have undergone a series of consultation with stakeholders and have been presented to the Tripartite Executive Committee. These have been endorsed already by the TEC to the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council which is scheduled to meet on Friday, 5 February. Once it gets the approval of the TIPC, the updated list of hazardous work for children will be issued immediately.
Baldoz also said that the DOLE has successfully mainstreamed the issue of child labor in national development plans such the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016. We will continue to mainstream it in the development plans of the next administration.
“We know that there are many LGUs now that have already promulgated ordinances and resolutions in support of child labor prevention and elimination. Child labor is one of the 12 indicators under the Child Friendly Local Governance Audit spearheaded by the DILG,” said Baldoz, adding that the CFLGA is a major tool aimed at assessing the LGU performance in the delivery of social services on child and youth welfare and identifying results of the intervention. Those who pass the CFLGA will be included in short list of potential nominees for the prestigious Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities.
On youth employment, Baldoz said that DOLE has initiated youth employment and capacity building programs geared at harnessing and developing the youth. “With a predominantly young population, the Philippine government is faced with the responsibility of creating and strengthening existing soft and hard infrastructures that will ensure the full and decent employability of all,” said Baldoz.
Baldoz said that part of the efforts to develop youth workers is the Special Program for the Employment of Students which assists poor but deserving students and out-of-school youths intending to pursue their education by encouraging employment during summer, Christmas vacation or any time of the year for students in the tertiary, technical, or vocational level.
Recently, DOLE also initiated the JobStart Philippines Program which is aimed at enhancing employability of at-risk youths by providing them with soft and hard skills leading to productive employment. The medium-term objective is to improve the capacity of DOLE as well as the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs), its counterpart at the LGU level, to deliver Labor Market Information (LMI) and enhanced employment services.
A total of 1,600 young adults, utilizing the PESO facilities in Quezon City, Taguig City, City of San Fernando, Pampanga and General Trias, Cavite, are currently enrolled in the pilot program.