Sep 242014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2009-01-15 08:39
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila


DE RUEHML #0102/01 0150839
O 150839Z JAN 09


E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 08 STATE 127448 B. 07 MANILA 03857

¶1. SUMMARY: This cable provides input requested for the
Secretary of Labor’s annual report to Congress on the
implementation of commitments to eliminate the worst forms of
child labor, (Ref A). It updates information provided by
Post in 2007, (Ref B), regarding child labor laws and
regulations in the Philippines, law enforcement capabilities,
social programs aimed at prevention, statistics on child
labor and child education, and government policies and
programs to combat child labor and child trafficking.

¶2. Sources of information used during the preparation of
this update include the Philippine Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Department of Social
Welfare and Development (DSWD), the International Labor
Organization (ILO), and World Vision. The Philippine
Government has strong laws in place to combat child labor and
trafficking abuses, but budgetary constraints, inefficient
law enforcement agencies, and an overburdened judiciary
hinder successful prosecution of such abuses. The government
and various NGOs conduct awareness-raising training
activities in local communities throughout the country, but
widespread poverty and a rapidly increasing population
(approximately 36% of the population are age 14 years and
under) contribute to a socio-economic environment in which
child labor is seen by many in society as necessary to the
economic survival of the poorest families. END SUMMARY

——————————————— —
Laws Proscribing the Worst Forms of Child Labor
——————————————— —

¶3. The Philippines has a strong set of laws to protect the
rights and welfare of children, especially those working in
hazardous conditions or in the worst forms of child labor.
Republic Act 9231 of 2003, “An Act Providing for the
Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording
Strong Protection for the Working Child,” amends the Labor
Code and codifies regulations set forth in the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child and ILO Convention 182.

¶4. Republic Act 9231 defines the worst forms of child labor
as: (1) the trafficking, debt bondage and forced labor of
children, including recruitment of children for use in armed
conflict; (2) child prostitution and pornography; (3) the use
of a child for illegal or illicit activities, including drug
trafficking; and (4) work which, by its nature or the
circumstances in which it is carried out, is hazardous or
likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of
children. Criteria for categorizing work as hazardous
include work that degrades the worth and dignity of a child;
exposes the child to physical, psychological, or sexual
abuse; is performed underground, underwater, or at dangerous
heights; involves the use of dangerous machinery, equipment,
and tools; requires the handling of heavy loads; exposes
children to extreme temperatures, noise levels, or
vibrations; is performed under particularly difficult
conditions; exposes the child to dangerous biological agents;
or involves the manufacture of handling of explosives and
other pyrotechnic products. Those found guilty of the worst
forms of child labor may be fined between 100,000 and 1
million pesos (between USD $2150 and USD $21,500), and/or
imprisoned for 12 to 20 years.

¶5. The Labor Code prohibits the employment of children under
the age of 15, except when working directly with a parent and
when the work does not endanger the child’s life, safety,
health, or morals, or interfere with schooling. Children
under 15 are allowed to work in the media industry, including
cinema, theater, television, and radio, when the child’s
participation is essential to the production. The law
requires that any child under age 15 employed under these
guidelines must receive a special permit from the DOLE, but
does not define the absolute minimum age for employment by
children. The Armed Forces of the Philippines does not
recruit soldiers below 18 years of age. However, there were
reports indicating that rebel groups including the New
People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group continued to recruit
minors (below age 18).

¶6. Republic Act 9231 also amends the limits on children’s
working hours. Children below 15 years are not allowed to
work more than four hours a day, and work should not exceed
twenty hours per week. Children below 15 years are not
allowed to work between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Children
aged 16 to 17 years are not allowed to work between 10:00
p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

¶7. Republic Act 9208 of 2003 criminalizes trafficking in
persons, including trafficking for adoption, sex tourism,
prostitution, pornography, the recruitment of children into

armed conflict, or under the guise of arranged marriage. The
trafficking of a child brings higher penalties of life
imprisonment and a fine of 2 to 5 million pesos (USD $43,000
to USD $107,500). Trafficking is also a non-bailable
offense. The law entitles victims and survivors to
counseling, temporary shelter, health care, legal assistance,
and access to the government’s witness protection program.

¶8. Other laws used by government to protect the welfare of
children include: Republic Act 7610 of 1992, “Special
Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and
Discrimination Act,” which criminalizes child prostitution
and sexual abuse, child trafficking, child pornography, and
other acts of child abuse; and Republic Act 8043 of 1995,
“Inter-Country Adoption Act,” which ensures the protection of
Filipino children from abuse, exploitation, trafficking,
and/or sale. On November 6, 2008, the government’s Special
Committee for the Protection of Children formally launched
the revised guidelines for media reporting and coverage of
children’s cases. The guidelines stress the need to protect
children’s rights to privacy and dignity, and the right to be

¶9. The Philippines has signed and ratified the major
international agreements to protect the rights and welfare of
children, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child (ratified in January 1990); the Optional Protocol on
the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child
Pornography (ratified in April 2002); ILO Convention 138 on
Minimum Age (ratified in June 1998); and ILO Convention 182
on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (ratified in November 2000).

Implementation of Laws Remains Limited

¶10. While Republic Act 9231’s passage improved the legal
protections for working children, full implementation of this
law faces the same challenges as other social legislation:
limited awareness and training in the law; low numbers of law
enforcement, Department of Labor and Employment, and
Department of Justice (DOJ) resources; a lack of focus on
enforcement; and a lengthy prosecution process. The
continuing challenge, as with combating trafficking in
persons, is to translate existing laws into effective
deterrents to violations of international norms and
Philippine law, as well as to alleviate the underlying
economic and social conditions that perpetuate child labor.

¶11. DOLE is the lead government agency responsible for
enforcing child labor laws through its labor standards
enforcement offices. DOLE employs only 153 labor inspectors
nationwide to monitor and enforce all aspects of the amended
Labor Code, making it difficult to investigate effectively
complaints and violations of child labor laws. DOLE has an
additional 45 vacant labor inspector positions but lacks
funding to fill them.

¶12. DOLE leads the “Sagip Batang Manggagawa” (Rescue the
Child Workers, or SBM) program, an interagency quick action
mechanism composed of DOLE, Philippine National Police (PNP),
and DSWD. The SBM interagency mechanism removed 1,723 child
labor victims from harmful situations between 2001 and 2007.
In the first three months of 2008, SBM conducted 16 removal
operations, involving 59 child workers. The minors were
referred to DSWD for rehabilitation and reintegration.
Statistics for the remainder of 2008 are not yet available;
however, one of DOLE’s priorities for 2009 is to improve its
statistical and reporting system.

¶13. Prosecutions and convictions for child labor continue to
be limited. Since 1995, only six people have been convicted
or violating the child labor law. From 2003 to the end of
2008, fifteen establishments employing 45 minors were closed
by DOLE for violating Republic Acts 9231 and 9208. Charges
have been filed against the owners of the establishments
(primarily videoke clubs), and litigation is ongoing. DOLE’s
Bureau of Women and Young Workers noted that data on child
labor prosecutions may be inaccurate due to incomplete
statistics from the provinces.

¶14. The government continued to conduct awareness raising
activities on child labor and child trafficking laws. In
January DOLE and a local NGO jointly organized a national
consultation on the prevention of trafficking for the worst
forms of child labor. DOLE also regularly conducted child
labor training programs for their labor inspectors. The
government acknowledged that the limited number of labor
inspectors, who assess the establishments’ compliance on
general labor standards and are not entirely focused on the
employment of child labor, made it difficult to enforce child
labor laws.

Government Policies and Programs

¶15. The Philippine National Strategic Framework for Plan
Development for Children, 2000-2025, also known as “Child
21,” and the National Program Against Child Labor (NPACL),
presently known as the Philippine Program Against Child Labor
(PPACL), are the primary government policy instruments for
the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation
of programs designed to prevent and eliminate child labor in
the Philippines. The Medium Term Philippine Development Plan
2004-2010 also includes measures for reducing the incidence
of child labor, especially in hazardous occupations. In the
plan, the Philippine Government pledges to strengthen
mechanisms to monitor the implementation of child protection
laws; develop “social technologies” to respond to child
trafficking and pornography; and implement an enhanced
program for children in armed conflict. In May 2008, DOLE
organized a Harmonization Workshop for the PPACL Plan of
Action 2008-2010 to enable stakeholders to actively
participate in all stages of the planning process and
drafting of the plan.

¶16. In 2008 the DOLE completed its plan of action for the
Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) Strategic
Framework, 2007-2015. The plan established a multi-level
information system to regularly update a reliable database
system on child labor in all regions. It also
institutionalized strategic partnerships with UNICEF, the
International Labor Organization (ILO), and 611 civil society
groups and NGOs nationwide. The plan calls for conducting
continuing awareness training for DOLE and Philippine
National Police (PNP) employees as well as for the parents of
child laborers. The plan seeks to promote a pro-active
response by government structures at all levels to eliminate
child labor and to enforce compliance with relevant laws and

¶17. The Philippine Government, with support from the U.S.
and other foreign governments, participated in several
initiatives to combat child labor in the country. The key
programs, implemented in cooperation with the ILO and World
Vision were:

— Combating Child Labor in Small-Scale Mining: ILO Manila,
in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills
Development Authority (TESDA), is working to combat child
labor in small-scale mining in Camarines Norte province.
This USD $20,000 project funded by the Finnish Embassy aims
to enroll 40 child laborers in vocational skills training
and provides entrepreneurship training for the parents.
Twenty children have already received skills training, and
the other twenty have been enrolled. A training of trainers
(TOT) module to create a pool of trainers from TESDA,
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), DOLE, and a
cooperative bank have also been established for the province.
TESDA’s skills training and job placement programs are
currently being evaluated to make the program more responsive
to the needs of working children and their families.

— ABK Education Initiative Phase 2: World Vision, which has
entered into separate Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) with
DOLE and the Department of Education to work with local
government units (LGUs) and other NGO partners, has begun
implementing Phase 2 of the ABK Education Initiative. This
four-year, U.S.-supported project aims to withdraw and
prevent an estimated 30,000 children from working in seven
hazardous occupations: sugarcane plantations and other
commercial agricultural enterprises, domestic work,
commercial sex, mining and quarrying, pyrotechnics
production, scavenging, and commercial fishing. The ABK
Initiative provides transitional or vocational education
programs for working children as well as those identified to
be “at-risk.” The training program is an open enrollment
system that consists of 10 modules the children must complete
in order to be awarded the credits. Phase 1 of the program,
which ended in 2008, provided elementary, high school,
vocational technical training and alternative learning
systems education to 31,320 children, 14,323 of whom were
considered to be “at-risk.” Phase 2, which began in October
2008, has already enrolled 9,318 child laborers.

— Child Labor Initiative (ChiLI) Project: In partnership
with the LGUs and other government departments, World Vision
has implemented a USD $50,000 project co-funded by the Korean
government in three areas of Leyte province to: improve
access of working children to formal education and
alternative learning systems; increase capacity of parents
and guardians to provide for their children; and increase
communities’ awareness of their responsibility to nurture and

protect their children. The project, which began in June
2007 and ended in May 2008, used counseling and education to
remove 300 children from workplaces. A total of 275 of these
children successfully completed the school year. The ChiLI
Project also trained 150 parents and guardians on parental
responsibilities and provided awareness training to the
affected communities on child labor and children’s rights.

¶18. DOLE is implementing the second phase of a USD $400,000
project funded by the Geneva-based Elimination of Child Labor
in Tobacco (ECLT) Foundation to reduce the incidence of child
labor in the tobacco fields of the Ilocos region. From
January to September 2008, the project provided scholarship
grants to 246 children and conducted entrepreneurship
training for 280 parents. It also held capacity-building
seminars for 213 program partners in five municipalities.

¶19. The government devoted a significant portion of its
limited budget resources to the education of children. The
Department of Education (DepEd) had the largest budget of any
cabinet department – 12 percent of the national budget.
Elementary and secondary education are free and compulsory
through age 11, but the quality of the education remains poor
due in part to insufficient resources. Government support
for the education of poor children is provided indirectly
through the public school system rather than through targeted
subsidies. The elementary public school enrollment rate for
the 2007-2008 school year was 76 percent. The enrollment
rate for secondary students is not available.

¶20. DepEd’s Bureau of Non-Formal Education develops and
encourages the use of learning modules for parents of working
children in the various regions with high incidences of the
worst forms of child labor. Translated into local dialects,
the modules educate parents about their children’s health
needs and basic rights and opportunities for livelihood and
income-generating projects. DepEd also operates a home-study
program designed to prevent students from dropping out of
school due to poverty, illness, or early marriage. With
assistance from the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency
(POEA) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, DepEd
incorporated lessons on international migration, including
illegal recruitment and mail order brides, into social
studies and values education classes in public elementary and
secondary schools throughout the country.

Child Labor Statistics

¶21. According to the latest Philippine Government survey in
2001, an estimated 4 million children between the ages of 5
and 17 are engaged in child labor. More than half of the
working children (2.1 million) were found to be working in
agriculture and related industries, of whom about 71 percent
were male and 60 percent were aged 5 to 14 years old. Other
industry groups with high numbers of children at work were in
the wholesale and retail services (approximately 747,000 or
18.6 percent), domestic work (230,000 or 5.7 percent),
fishing (208,000 or 5.2 percent), and manufacturing (186,000)
or 4.6 percent). The director of DOLE’s Bureau of Women and
Young Workers told Post that the number of child laborers may
have increased since the 2001 survey, but the government does
not have the funds to conduct a new survey.


¶22. The Philippines is an origin, destination and, to a
lesser extent, a transit country for children trafficked for
the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor.
Children and young women from poor farming communities in the
central and southern Philippines are brought to major urban
centers and employed as factory workers, domestic helpers, or
prostitutes. Victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation
are generally girls, with ages ranging from 7 to 16 years
old. Most of these children come from very poor families
with unemployed or irregularly employed parents. The Visayan
Forum Foundation in 2008 established a halfway house near
Manila’s airport for rescued children identified by airport
officials as victims of trafficking.

¶23. Child prostitution is a serious problem, exacerbated by
the Philippines’ reputation as a destination for sex tourists
as well as the country’s economic and demographic conditions.
Sex tourists reportedly come from East Asia, Europe, North
America, and neighboring countries to engage in sexual
activity with minors. UNICEF and local NGOs estimate that
60,000 to 100,000 children work in the commercial sex
industry. DSWD estimates a net increase of 3,200 prostituted
children each year. The government cooperates with the USG

in prosecuting American nationals under the terms of the U.S.
Protect Act of 2003, which criminalized the commission by
American nationals overseas of child abuse, including child
pornography and other sexual offenses against a minor.
Social workers at World Vision told Post that while the
international sex tourism industry garners the most
headlines, most child prostitutes work in local communities
where it is very difficult for the government and the NGOs to
identify them. They frequently work in videoke bars by using
fake IDs or on the city streets where it is easy for them to
avoid police and social workers.

¶24. The Philippine Government has no central database of
trafficking information; however, various government agencies
and NGOs document cases of trafficking. The Inter-Agency
Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) coordinates,
monitors, and oversees the implementation of Republic Act
9208, and serves as an umbrella organization to coordinate
anti-trafficking efforts. The DOJ Secretary and the DSWD
Secretary co-chair IACAT. Other member agencies include the
Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration, National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Labor and
Employment, National Bureau of Investigation, and the
Philippine National Police. Three NGOs representing women,
children, and overseas Filipino workers are also part of

¶25. The Philippine Government has made progress in combating
trafficking, particularly in the areas of law enforcement and
victim protection and assistance. There have been twelve
convictions under the 2003 anti-trafficking in persons law,
involving 55 female victims, including minors. All of these
victims were trafficked for prostitution. DSWD provides
basic social services such as counseling, medical services,
temporary shelter, and repatriation for minors rescued from
prostitution. DSWD operates 38 temporary shelters for
victims throughout the country. Of these, 11 centers are for
women, 13 are for girls, and the remaining 14 are for boys,
men, and the elderly. From January through September 2008,
DSWD assisted 89 victims of child prostitution and 149
victims of child trafficking. DSWD also referred cases for
women and children to accredited NGOs, which provided
temporary shelter and community services to women and
children in crisis, including victims of trafficking.

¶26. NGOs such as the Visayan Forum Foundation, Virlanie
Foundations, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and
the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT),
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), and the
People’s Recovery, Empowerment, and Development Assistance
(PREDA) Foundation Inc. complement government efforts by
offering counseling services, training, housing, and formal
and non-formal education to rescued child trafficking victims.

¶27. The Philippine Government has enacted all the necessary
laws to combat the worst forms of child labor as called for
in article 4 of ILO Convention 182. The government and
various NGOs are working hard to educate the parents of child
laborers and their local communities about the rights of
children. They have set up community watch groups and have
trained teachers to advocate for children who are being
victimized or trafficked. One of the most difficult tasks
faced by both government workers and NGOs is in educating
parents on the difference between child labor and acceptable
child work. Large sugar plantations hire only adults to work
their fields, but the parents bring the children along to
help fertilize the fields, weed, and cut the cane to maximize
the families’ earnings. The government finds it very
difficult legally to prosecute the plantation owners in such
cases, so the government and NGOs are focusing their efforts
on education and assistance to the families.

¶28. A substantial portion of the child labor force is
working in domestic households and home-based cottage
industries, where government does not have the resources to
monitor their use of child labor. To compensate for this
lack of visibility, DOLE, working with PNP, has sought
support from the Women and Children’s desks in police
stations to investigate complaints of child labor abuse. A
national emergency hotline handles calls involving incidents
of child labor abuse and trafficking and reports them to
local government units. The lack of hard statistics and data
makes it nearly impossible to estimate the content of child
labor in any given manufactured product, but anecdotal
evidence lends support to the conclusion that child labor is
not a significant component of most Philippine exports. The
Philippine Government has enacted the necessary laws to
identify and eliminate the worst forms of child labor and, in
conjunction with its strategic partners, is working to deter
and combat child labor and trafficking. The effectiveness of
the government’s efforts, however, is limited by lack of

funds, weak enforcement, and a cumbersome judicial process.




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