Oct 042014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3830 2005-08-19 07:01 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 143552
¶B. MANILA 971
¶C. 04 MANILA 04072

¶1. (U) Summary and Introduction: This message 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 2004 (per ref C) 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.

¶2. (U) The Philippine government is trying to combat child
labor, but it remains a serious problem. Republic Act 9231
(RA 9231), signed by President Arroyo in 2003, has
strengthened the existing anti-child labor code. Criminal
prosecutions and convictions, however, remain rare. The ILO
and NGOs such as World Vision have made progress in
identifying children engaged in or at-risk for the worst
forms of child labor and mainstreaming them into the
educational process. The ILO-managed Philippine Time-Bound
Program (PTBP) funded by the U.S. Department of Labor has
resulted in more than 6,000 children removed from child
labor. Prevention efforts are also in place.

¶3. (U) Sources of information used during the preparation of
this update cable included the Philippine Department of Labor
and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Women and Young Workers
in the DOLE, the International Labor Organization, and World
Vision. End Summary and Introduction.


¶4. (U) Estimates of the incidence of child labor vary
significantly. The 2000/2001 National Survey on Children
(NSC) estimated that as many as four million children aged 5
to 17 years were economically active: 16.2 percent of the
total population of children in that age group. Of the four
million child workers, an estimated 60 percent or 2.4 million
were exposed to hazardous working environments. However, the
results of the Labor Force Survey (conducted and published by
the National Statistics Office) for October 2004 revealed
that about 2.12 million or 9.1 percent of the total 25.21
million children 5 to 17 years old are engaged in economic
activities. The number decreased by 5.2 percent from last
year’s (October 2003) figure of 2.23 million.

¶5. (U) The Philippine government spends approximately 3
percent of its GDP on education. Government support for the
education of poor children is provided indirectly through the
public school system rather than through targeted subsidies.
During the 2002-2003 school year, approximately 19 million
elementary and secondary school students were enrolled, a 1.9
percent increase over the previous year’s enrollment of 18.64
million. (Note: Statistics on enrollment for school years
2003-2004 and 2004-2005 are not yet available. End Note.)

¶6. (U) Republic Act 9231: President Arroyo signed Republic
Act 9231 in 2003, codifying regulations set forth in the UN
Convention of Rights of Children and ILO Convention 182 (ref
B). The new law, which gives more muscle to the existing
anti-child labor code, has been implemented but has not yet
resulted in any prosecutions or convictions (see Para 13).

New and Continuing Initiatives

¶7. (U) The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) funds several
initiatives through the ILO and World Vision to combat child
labor in the Philippines (ref B). The key initiatives are:

— ILO-IPEC implementation of Philippine Time-Bound Program
This program, started in 2002, supports the Government of
Philippine’s goal of reducing the Worst Forms of Child Labor
(WFCL) by 75% by 2015. The project is being implemented in
six regions of the Philippines covering eight provinces. The
goals of this project are to rescue 44,500 children aged five
to 17 years engaged in or at-risk for the worst forms of
child labor by 2006 through counseling, education and
reintegration with their families.

— Combating Child Soldiers:
ILO-IPEC is implementing a program to reduce the incidence of
child soldiers, targeting those in Mindanao. ILO-IPEC
estimates that at least 2,000 children or minors could be
child soldiers in the Philippines. By mid-2005, the project
had demobilized 300 children from armed conflict and
reintegrated them into mainstream society, and 120 of these
minors were enrolled in elementary grades, high school and
college, while 180 were given vocational skills training.

— The Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) Program:
The TREE program provides skills training with the aim of
creating economic opportunities in Mindanao. One of the
target groups for this initiative is 14-18 year old youth.
By August 2005, a total of 806 beneficiaries had completed
community-based training in vocational skills such as
welding, tailoring, food processing, pottery making and

— The ABK Education Initiative:
Under this initiative, the education component of the PTBP,
World Vision, along with a number of NGO partners, is
providing transitional education or vocational education
programs for working children as well as those identified to
be “at-risk”. Since the project was implemented in 2003,
24,000 children have been enrolled in formal education and
about 200 children have been enrolled in non-formal education
and vocational skills training.

— Increasing Public Awareness and Capacities of National and
Local Alliances through Program and Policy Advocacies Towards
Realization of Time Bound Education Agenda:
ILO-IPEC launched this program in May 2005 as part of the
regional project “APEC Awareness-Raising Campaign:
Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Providing
Educational Opportunities.” The project aims to engage key
stakeholders through national alliances in the development of
education materials, and conduct awareness raising activities
as well as policy advocacy for education.

¶8. (U) DOLE is also implementing a project, funded by the
Geneva-based Elimination of Child Labor in Tobacco
Foundation, to reduce the incidence of child labor in tobacco
fields in the Ilocos region. As of August 2005, the project
has given two-year scholarship grants to 100 children as well
as alternative livelihood assistance to their families.

PTBP Projects: Results

¶9. (U) The significant PTBP Project achievements through
August 2005 are:

— Baseline surveys have been completed in the eight targeted
provinces. The listings have identified more than 38,000
children (by name) working and at risk of working in the six
worst forms of child labor. The listings have now been
forwarded to World Vision for use in the ABK/Educational
Initiative project.

— According to the PTBP, 6,135 children have been withdrawn
and prevented from engaging in the six priority WFCL sectors.
ILO-IPEC, through its partner organizations, has provided
them with psychosocial counseling, temporary shelter (and
eventual referral to the Department of Social Welfare and
Development) and basic health services, repatriation
assistance, vocational training, and help in preparing for
schooling. The parents of these children were also given
support in livelihood activities to remove the compulsion to
send them to work.

— An action program was launched in May 2004 in
collaboration with the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) to
target 3,000 children in the domestic labor pool and
mainstream them into formal or non-formal education. By July
2005, the VFF had enrolled 1,623 child domestic laborers in
the formal and non-formal education systems and provided
non-education services, such as counseling, repatriation,
legal and medical assistance to 1,019 children working or
at-risk of working as domestic laborers.

Government Action

¶10. (U) DOLE participated in a number of programs and
activities to mark the 2005 World Day Against Child Labor
(WDACL) on 12 June, including:
— The launch in Cebu City of the one million signature
campaign for &Batas Basambahay,8 proposed legislation that
aims to institutionalize protections for domestic workers,
both adult and child.
— A three-day radio program sponsored by the Archbishop
Mabutas Media Center in Davao.

¶11. (U) The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) serves as
the steering committee for the National Policy of Action on
Child Labor (NPACL) framework. The NCLC, in partnership with
the ILO, held a “National Forum on Child Labor and Mining in
the Philippines” to mark the 2005 WDACL. Relevant government
agencies, workers organizations, employers groups and the
social partners of NPACL participated in the forum, which
presented the findings of a study on children in mining in
Camarines Norte and the actions taken by NGOs and local
government agencies to address the problem of child labor.
DOLE, the Trade Union Congress, the Federation of Free
Workers, and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines
endorsed the ILO call to eliminate child labor in the mining
and quarrying industries by 2015.

¶12. (U) DOLE leads the interagency “Sagip Batang Manggagawa”
(Rescue the Child Workers, or SBM) program, which rescued
1,440 child labor victims from 2001-2003. In 2004, SBM
conducted 73 operations involving 195 minors. From January
to June 2005, SBM conducted 24 operations involving 71
minors. The rescued minors were handed to the Department of
Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for rehabilitation and

¶13. (U) Thus far in 2005, DOLE has ordered the closure of two
establishments, allegedly engaged in offering minors for
prostitution, for violating RA 9231 (see below for further
information on the child sex trade). However, the cases are
still under preliminary investigation. Prosecutions and
convictions for child labor continue to be limited. Since
1995, only four people have been convicted of violating the
child labor law. There are seven pending child labor cases in
Metro Manila, but there have been no convictions in 2005.
(Note: The Bureau of Women and Young Workers in DOLE admits
that its available data may be incomplete due to a lack of
statistics from the provinces. End Note.)

Child Prostitution: Little Progress

¶14. (U) Child prostitution — one of the six WFCL — is a
serious problem, driven by the Philippines’ popularity as a
destination for sex tourists as well as economic and
demographic conditions. UNICEF and local NGOs estimate that
60,000 to 100,000 children work in the commercial sex
industry. Most of these children are girls, and they come
from very poor families with unemployed or irregularly
employed parents. Girls aged 7 to 16 years old are victims
of trafficking for sexual exploitation. There were no
convictions under the 2003 anti-trafficking law during the
past year. DSWD estimates that the annual increase in
prostituted children averages more than 3,200.

¶15. (U) Although the Department of Labor and Employment has
no separate program to curb the problem of child sex workers,
minors rescued from prostitution dens are referred to the
Department of Social Welfare and Development for basic social
services such as counseling, medical services, temporary
shelter and repatriation. NGOs such as Virlanie Foundation,
End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) and the
People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance
(PREDA) Foundation Inc. complement government and ILO-IPEC
efforts by offering counseling services, training, housing,
and provision of formal and non-formal education to rescued
child sex workers. See Post’s annual Anti-Trafficking in
Persons report (ref B) for further information on the problem
of child trafficking.


¶16. (U) Overall, the Philippine government is trying to
combat child labor, but it remains a serious problem. The
PTBP target of rescuing 44,500 working and at-risk children
by 2006 is measurable and within reach. While RA 9231 has
strengthened and criminalized many elements of child labor,
full implementation of this law faces the same challenges as
other social legislation: limited awareness and training in
the new law; low numbers of law enforcement and Department of
Justice (DOJ) resources; a lack of focus on enforcement; and
a lengthy prosecution process. The continuing challenge is
to translate existing laws into increased prosecutions and
convictions in order to catch perpetrators and deter future
violations of international norms and Philippine law, as well
as alleviate the underlying economic and social conditions
that perpetuate child labor.




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