Amid the observance of “World Day Against Child Labor” today, June 12. Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the National Council Against Child Labor to accelerate efforts to rescue and protect the country’s child laborers from exploitation and abuse.
Both the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned last year that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the global decline in child labor. The two agencies cited patterns in countries like Brazil, Guatemala, India, Mexico, and Tanzania, where parental unemployment due to economic shocks led to children stepping in to provide temporary support.
The April 2021 Labor Force Survey shows that following the surge of COVID-19 infections and the imposition of stricter quarantine measures in NCR Plus, 4.14 million Filipinos were left jobless in April, higher than the 3.44 million recorded in March.
While the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has yet to receive the latest official data on the number of young Filipinos engaged in child labor, it cites the 2011 Survey on Children that the number of those aged five to 17 engaged in child labor was estimated at 2.097 million and 2.049 million of whom were in hazardous child labor. DOLE is targeting to free 30 percent of these children from illegal labor as part of the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022. DOLE said the worst forms of child labor include the sale and trafficking of children, child pornography, and the use of children in illegal activities such as the production and trafficking of dangerous drugs.
“Ang mga kabataan ay dapat nag-aaral at hindi napipilitang magtrabaho, kung saan maaari silang makaranas ng pang-aabuso. Sila ang humaharap sa mga pinakamatinding pinsalang dulot ng COVID-19 at kabilang sa mga panganib na kanilang kinakaharap ang pagiging child laborer,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Last year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 1794, which strengthened Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) as amended by Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012).
The proposed measure provides that in cases involving child trafficking, regional trial courts can authorize law enforcers to conduct surveillance and record communication and information involving persons charged with or suspected of trafficking. It also mandates responsibilities on internet service providers (ISPs) and tourism-oriented establishments to report and prevent cases of trafficking.
One responsibility of ISPs, for example, is to block and filter access to any form of child pornography. Tourism-oriented establishments, on the other hand, will be mandated to train their staff to recognize and report signs of human trafficking crimes.