In its bid to strengthen the program against child labor, the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) held a two-day Orientation on Child Labor for the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Hotline 1349 assistance officers and support staff.
Last September 14 to 15, 2021, the BWSC together with the DOLE Information and Publication Service, an active member of the Knowledge Management and Advocacy Technical Working Group of the National Council Against Child Labor, spearheaded the implementation of the Intermediate Outcome 4 of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor Strategic Plan 2020-2022, or the improved generation, dissemination, and use of knowledge on child labor among stakeholders, policymakers, program implementers, and the general public.
The orientation enabled the Hotline 1349 Team to gain knowledge and understanding on child labor to effectively address the inquiries and issues they might receive.
Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, BWSC Director, opened the program stating that it needs a whole-of-government approach to effectively address the issues of child labor, as this involves various programs to properly take out children from hazardous work.
“Even with the quarantine imposed last year, we continued to refer profiled children engaged in child labor to different programs and services for immediate assistance,” she added.
She also emphasized that the DOLE hotline plays a crucial role since it is a platform for the public to reach out to the Department regarding labor and employment concerns including child labor related issues.
During the program proper, Ms. Jamie Juseal Austria, Labor and Employment Officer (LEO) II of the Young Workers Development Division (YWDD) gave a brief situationer on child labor.
It was identified through the 2020 Global Estimates on Child Labor that 160 million children around the world are involved in child labor, and 79 million of these are in the hazardous work.
The agricultural sector accounts for the largest share of child labor worldwide, which translates to 70% of the total number of child laborers.
Then, Ms. Maribeth Casin, Chief LEO of the YWDD, discussed the Republic Act 9231 or the Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child, and the DOLE Department Order No.149-16 or the Guidelines on Assessing and Determining Hazardous Work in the Employment of Person below 18 Years of Age.
She explained the prohibitions, as well limitations and conditions of work for children who are engaged in employment under the law.
“Children who are allowed, as stated by the law, to engage in employment should secure a Working Child Permit (WCP) through the DOLE,” Casin emphasized.
A Working Child Permit is issued on children under 15 years of age who are engaged in employment through public information or entertainment.
DOLE also imposes administrative sanctions on establishments—from temporary to permanent closure, who violates the rights of children depending on the severity of the violation.
Moreover, the Department Order No. 149-16, which serves as guidelines for labor inspectors in monitoring and assessing compliance with labor standards, occupational safety and health standards, and laws related to child labor, was also tackled by Ms. Casin.
On the second day of the orientation, Ms. Kimberly Carmina Diaz, Senior Labor and Employment Officer of the YWDD, discussed the difference between child labor and child work, the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL), and the DOLE Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP).
Child work involves light work wherein the child learns to take responsibility, it still respects the rights to education and health of the child, and it is occasional and legal.
On the other hand, child labor includes hazardous and exploitative jobs wherein it deprives the child of its rights, and is constant and most of the time, illegal.
She added that child labor and child work may be determined through the heaviness of the work assigned to the child, rights of the child that may be impeded by the work, length and time allotted, and the age appropriateness of the work.
Ms. Diaz also discussed the PPACL, which envisions a child labor-free Philippines by transforming the lives of child laborers and their families through various programs and services by the DOLE and other agency partners.
The PPACL sees five intermediate outcomes through the PPACL Strategic Framework 2020-2022, which are the strengthened and localized National Council Against Child Labor towards better coordination of its members and partners at all levels, improved and inclusive enforcement of anti-child labor laws at the national and local levels, expanded access of child laborers and their families to social protection, including health, education, child protection and decent work, improved generation, dissemination, and use of knowledge on child labor among stakeholders, policymakers, program implementers and the general public, and established and maintained National Child Labor Monitoring and Evaluation System.
“It is not enough to just remove the children from child labor without addressing their concerns, this is also to give them the proper assistance,” she added.
She also explained the DOLE CLPEP, which aims to locate and identify the children who will be removed from child labor from 2017-2022, and be referred to appropriate agencies and organizations for the provision of necessary services.
The program includes profiling of child laborers, and interventions like Sagip Batang Manggagawa or an inter-agency quick action mechanism that responds to cases of child laborers in extremely abject conditions, livelihood assistance to parents of child laborers, Project Angel Tree, which provides an array of social services to child laborers and their families like food, school supplies and hygiene kits made available by sponsors called “angels”, and different advocacy campaigns that promote awareness to the current plight of child laborers and gather support for the programs and interventions to address it.
Mr. Jerommel Gabriel, Supervising LEO of the YWDD, tackled the DOLE Department Order No. 2-17, or the Guidelines on the Issuance of Permit for Children below 15 Years of Age Engaged in Public Entertainment of Information.
He explained the requirements, coverage, and procedures in securing a WCP.
“WCP is required if a child below 15 years of age will be engaged in public entertainment or information, regardless of his/her role. It also includes projects which are non-profit, advocacy, or political advertisements,” he added.
He also emphasized the safety of working children during the community quarantine as stated under the Labor Advisory No. 23-20.
Mr. Gabriel said, “A child may be allowed to participate in public entertainment or information during the community quarantine period if the assigned task will be done on the child’s home under the supervision of family members, representatives of the employer may be allowed to the child’s home if necessary, and the employer must secure a WCP.”
He also briefly discussed other laws and issuances involved in child labor like the Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act, Republic Act No. 10361 or the Batas Kasambahay, and Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, as well as Department Order No. 216-20 or the Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Placement of Industry Workers by Private Employment Agencies for Local Employment, and Labor Advisory 24A-20 or the revised guidelines on engagement of children in public entertainment or information during community quarantine, among others.