Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA5026.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA5026 2006-12-18 09:29 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7473
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #5026/01 3520929
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180929Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4307
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2171
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 005026

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
STATE/DRL FOR TU DANG
DOL/ILAB FOR TINA MCCARTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID PHUM RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES: CHILD LABOR UPDATE 2006

REF: A. STATE 184972
¶B. 05 MANILA 3830
¶C. 06 MANILA 944

¶1. 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 2005 (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.

¶2. Despite GRP efforts to combat child labor, 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 International Labor
Organization (ILO) and NGOs such as World Vision and Winrock
International 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. According
to officials of the ILO-managed Philippine Time-Bound Program
(PTBP), funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, it has helped
more than 38,000 children by preventing them from engaging in
child labor or reducing the time that they spend in dangerous
activities.

¶3. Sources of information used during the preparation of this
update include the Philippine Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE), including DOL’s Bureau of Women and Young
Workers, the International Labor Organization, World Vision,
and Winrock International. End Summary and Introduction.

———-
Background
———-

¶4. Estimates of the incidence of child labor in the
Philippines 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. The Labor Force Survey (conducted and
published by the National Statistics Office) for January 2005
revealed that about 2.13 million, or 8.4 percent, of the
total 25.31 million children 5 to 7 years old, are engaged in
economic activities. The number is similar to last year’s
(January 2004) figure of 2.14 million. (Note: The Labor Force
Survey cited a lower number of working children since it
relied on “the past seven days” as the reference period in
the survey, compared to the national survey, which used “the
past year” as the reference period. End Note.)

¶5. The Philippine government spends approximately three
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.
The public school enrollment rate for 2005-06 was 74 percent,
slightly down from 76 percent for the 2004-2005 school year.

¶6. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act
9231 (“Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of
Child Labor and Affording Strong Protection for the Working
Child”) in 2003, codifying regulations set forth in the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO Convention 182.
The law, which gave more muscle to the existing anti-child
labor code, has not yet resulted in any convictions (see para
14). Among the industries employing the worst forms of child
labor are sugarcane plantations, pyrotechnics production,
deep-sea fishing, mining and quarrying, domestic service, and
the commercial sex industry. The Labor Code of 1993 and
Republic Act 7658 also of 1993 similarly prohibit 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. The laws require that any child
under age 15 employed under these guidelines must receive a
special permit from the DOLE, but do not define the absolute
minimum age for employment by children.

——————————
New and Continuing Initiatives
——————————

MANILA 00005026 002 OF 004

¶7. The U.S. Department of Labor funds several initiatives
through the ILO, World Vision, and Winrock International to
combat child labor in the Philippines. The key programs are:

— ILO-IPEC implementation of Philippine Time-Bound Program
(PTBP): This program began in 2002 to support the Philippine
government’s goal of reducing the Worst Forms of Child Labor
(WFCL) by 75 percent by 2015. The project covers eight
provinces. The goal is to rescue 44,500 children aged 5 to
17 years engaged in or at-risk for WFCL by 2007 through
counseling, education, and reintegration with their families
(Note: The implementation of ILO-IPEC PTBP was extended to
August 2007. End Note);

— Combating Child Soldiers: ILO-IPEC is implementing this
program to reduce the incidence of child soldiers in
Mindanao. ILO-IPEC estimates that at least 2,000 children or
minors may be child soldiers in the Philippines. By November
2006, the project had withdrawn and/or prevented 302 children
from armed conflict and reintegrated them into mainstream
society. 120 of these minors were enrolled in elementary
grades, high school, or college, while 182 were given
vocational skills training. During the year, ILO conducted
public awareness campaigns against the involvement of
children in armed conflict through 22 radio stations in
Mindanao;

— The Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE)
Program: The TREE program provides skills training to create
economic opportunities in Mindanao. One of the target groups
for this initiative is 14-18 year old youth. By September
2006, a total of 1,210 beneficiaries had completed
community-based training in vocational skills, such as
welding, tailoring, food processing, pottery making, and
dressmaking. About 340 more trainees are expected to
complete the training by March 2007;

— The ABK Education Initiative: Under this program (the
education component of the PTBP), World Vision, along with a
number of NGO partners, provides transitional or vocational
education programs for working children as well as those
identified to be “at-risk.” Since the project was
implemented in 2003, 31,098 children have been enrolled in
formal or informal education. In May 2006, World Vision and
its partner NGOs gathered more than 100 media practitioners
in a National Media Summit on Child Labor to help raise
awareness about child labor;

— 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;

— The CIRCLE project: On its second phase of implementation
in 27 countries including the Philippines, the
Community-based Innovations to Combat Child Labor through
Education (CIRCLE) project funded five local organizations to
conduct innovative and community-based education programs in
areas of high incidence of child labor. As of August 2006,
986 children have been withdrawn and/or prevented from child
labor and enrolled instead in formal and informal education.

¶8. 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 March 2006, the project
has given two-year scholarship grants to 100 children, as
well as alternative livelihood assistance and basic
entrepreneurial training to their families. The project also
conducted awareness-raising activities for about 2,000
participants in five municipalities.

———————-
PTBP Projects: Results
———————-

¶9. Significant PTBP achievements through November 2006 are:

— Child labor monitoring was included in the technical
advisory visits and self-assessment training manuals of

MANILA 00005026 003 OF 004

DOLE,s Labor Standard Enforcement Framework. Child labor
indicators were also included in the Department of
Education’s basic education monitoring and evaluation
framework;

— According to the PTBP, 38,653 children were withdrawn
and/or prevented from engaging in the six priority WFCL
sectors. ILO-IPEC, through its partner organizations,
provided them with psychological counseling, temporary
shelter (and eventual referral to the Department of Social
Welfare and Development — DSWD) and basic health services,
repatriation assistance, vocational training, alternative
education, and/or help in preparing for formal schooling.
About 1,300 adult family members of these children received
livelihood support and assistance such as access to
micro-credit, provision of basic literacy and vocational
training, and assistance in starting micro enterprises;

— In collaboration with the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF),
PTBP launched in May 2004 an action program to target 3,000
children in the domestic labor pool and mainstream them into
formal or non-formal education. By June 2006, the VFF had
rescued 2,335 children from domestic work; of these, 545 were
enrolled in formal education, 379 were enrolled in
alternative education and vocational training, and 1,417 were
provided psychological, medical, and/or legal counseling
services. According to VFF, the organization also prevented
more than 1,400 at-risk children from entering the domestic
labor market.

—————–
Government Action
—————–

¶10. DOLE participated in a number of programs and activities
to mark the 2006 World Day Against Child Labor (WDACL) on
June 12, including:

— Seminar on the Global Report on Child Labor conducted by
ILO;

— Symposium on the operation of local government units on
the protection of children, organized by the International
Textiles, Garments, and Leather Workers Federation;

— Dental and medical mission for child laborers and their
families in Bulacan, Central Luzon.

¶11. DOLE launched on December 4 “Program Angel Tree,” which
highlights DOLE’s commitment to eliminate child labor and
alleviate the plight of child workers and their families.
The program contains a broad array of social services, such
as provision of food, clothing, shelter, mentoring,
livelihood assistance, educational assistance, and other work
and training opportunities for child workers and their
families. Resources for this program come from private
donations and available government services.

¶12. The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) serves as the
interagency steering committee for the GRP,s National Policy
of Action on Child Labor (NPACL) framework. The NCLC, with
DOLE as the lead agency, is currently working on a new NPACL
Framework for 2007-2015 and the Strategic Plans 2007-2010 to
eliminate child labor. A national summit on child labor
likely will take place in June 2007 to present the new
framework and strategic plans. 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.

¶13. DOLE leads the interagency “Sagip Batang Manggagawa”
(Rescue the Child Workers, or SBM) program, which rescued
1,562 child labor victims between 2001 and 2006. From
January to September 2006, SBM conducted 44 rescue operations
involving 201 child workers. The rescued minors were
referred to the DSWD for rehabilitation and reintegration.

¶14. Thus far in 2006, DOLE has ordered the closure of three
establishments, allegedly engaged in prostitution of minors,

MANILA 00005026 004 OF 004

for violating RA 9231 (see below for further information on
the child sex trade). The trials on the three cases are
underway. 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
nine pending child labor legal cases in Metro Manila, but
there were no convictions in 2006. (Note: According to DOLE’s
Bureau of Women and Young Workers, this data may be
incomplete due to a lack of statistics from the provinces.
End Note)

———————————–
Child Prostitution: Little Progress
———————————–

¶15. 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 approximately 3,200.

¶16. DSWD provides basic social services such as counseling,
medical services, temporary shelter and repatriation for
minors rescued from prostitution. NGOs such as the 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 Trafficking in
Persons Report — ref c — for further information on child
trafficking.)

——-
Comment
——-

¶17. Overall, the Philippine government is trying to combat
child labor, but it remains a serious problem. While RA 9231
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, as
with combating trafficking in persons, 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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