Legarda: Better opportunities will end child labor

Legarda: Better opportunities will end child labor
As a legislator, Legarda authored and sponsored relevant laws to address the continuing problem of child labor, such as the Anti-Child Labor Law (Republic Act 9231), the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 10364), and the Domestic Workers Act (Republic Act 10361).
Photo Release

MANILA, Philippines — Alarmed over the high number of children trapped in various forms of child labor, three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda said that providing Filipino families with basic services and better opportunities will end child labor and save their future.

Legarda made the statement following the release of a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UNICEF, which revealed that about 160 million children around the world—63 million girls and 97 million boys—are in child labor.

“It is a sad fact that there are children who are forced into child labor, doing household chores in their employer’s home, farming, and selling on the streets to support and provide for their families instead of going to school,” Legarda lamented.

“Globally, we have 160 million children deprived of their childhood and their right to education. In the Philippines, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has recorded in 2019 that 1.19 million families with members 5 to 17 years old are involved in child labor. This should be a wake-up call to us. We already have the laws and mechanism. We only have to bolster our initiatives and programs to save these children’s future,” Legarda said.

The ILO report also stated that out of the 160 million children, 79 million are involved in hazardous work that affects their health and moral development, while child labor is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.

“Being in child labor, children are exposed to multiple forms of abuses such as sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, forced labor, internal displacement, among others. Disasters, armed conflicts, and the current pandemic make them even more vulnerable to abuses as innocent lives are preyed upon by scrupulous individuals and human trafficking syndicates,” Legarda said.

Legarda has long been involved in the fight against child labor, freeing many from the dangerous world they had been exposed to.

Even during her years as a journalist, she personally helped children, including miners and street vendors, escape from child labor and supported their education.

As a legislator, Legarda authored and sponsored relevant laws to address the continuing problem of child labor, such as the Anti-Child Labor Law (Republic Act 9231), the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 10364), and the Domestic Workers Act (Republic Act 10361).

The Anti-Child Labor Law, which Legarda co-authored, protects children from being engaged in work outside the protection of their parents or guardian and that which might endanger their life, safety and development.

The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, which the three-term senator co-authored and principally sponsored, protects children from being trafficked through its strengthened provisions, which also cover attempted trafficking and accessory or accomplice liability.

Meanwhile, the Domestic Workers Act, which Legarda co-sponsored, deems it unlawful to employ children below 15 years of age as domestic worker or kasambahay, while those who are 15 years old but below 18 years of age are considered as working children and are protected under the Anti-Child Labor Act.

Legarda said that the situation requires a multi-disciplinary protection system, aside from stricter implementation of anti-trafficking and anti-child labor laws, providing livelihood opportunities to parents and coordinated response among different concerned agencies will help alleviate child labor in the country.

“It is not enough that we take children out of child labor. We must ensure that they will have no reason to go back. Short-term interventions are available, but to really address the issue, we must provide long-term solutions. We must seek ways to provide them with the means to uplift their conditions through programs that will equip them with livelihood, technical and social skills such as DOLE TUPAD, DOLE Pangkabuhayan, DTI SSF, and DOST CEST, among others. By providing adequate resources to families to earn and start a sustainable livelihood that can support their family’s daily needs, we are also saving millions of children from child labor,” she explained.

“Our children are the hope of our nation. Let us not deprive them of their rights to have a brighter future. At a young age, they should be nurtured, provided with quality education, access to health services and social protection, and given the right to enjoy their childhood far from the hard work in the rice fields, the dangers of the mines and the mountains, and abuse and exploitation,” Legarda concluded.

Three-term Senator Loren Legarda with former child laborers Joseph Boseto (left) and Rodel Morcozo (right).
Photo Release

These photos show three-term Senator Loren Legarda with former child laborers whom she rescued and helped to achieve a better life.

Joseph Boseto and Rodel Morcozo were child miners in Camarines Norte. Rodel would search for gold and handle mercury-based chemicals with bare hands, while Joseph used to dive to 30 feet in a narrowly-dug hole filled with murky water with only a pair of goggles to protect his eyes, cotton balls to protect his ears from air pressure, and a tube connected to a compressor as his oxygen source.

She helped them escape from the dangerous world of mining by supporting their education—the same assistance she provided to Melinda de Vera, who once lived in a wooden cart and helped her mother sell candies in the streets of Paco, Manila. 

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