Oct 042014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2008-06-10 10:39
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

DE RUEHML #1383/01 1621039
O 101039Z JUN 08


STATE FOR DRL/ILCSR (Mittelhauser), G/TIP (Steiner), EAP/MTS,

E.O. 12958: N/A


REF: A. STATE 43120 (Forced Labor and Child Labor)
¶B. MANILA 539 (2008 Trafficking in Persons Report)
¶C. 07 MANILA 3857 (2007 Child Labor Update)

¶1. SUMMARY: This cable provides input for the Department of Labor’s
request for information on forced labor and exploitative child labor
in the production of goods as mandated by the Trafficking Victims
Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (ref A). Post’s point of
contact for child labor and forced labor issues is Political Officer
Barry Fullerton (E-mail: FullertonTB@state.gov; Phone:
+63-2-301-2350; Fax: +63-2-301-2472). End Summary.

Goods Produced Using Exploitative Child Labor

¶2. After surveying available data as well as interviewing primary
contacts on labor issues, Post determined that the following goods
are sometimes produced with exploitative child labor in the
Philippines: a) sugarcane; b) firecrackers and other pyrotechnic
articles; c) gold ores; d) tobacco; and e) fish. There are
scattered anecdotal reports that child labor is sometimes used in
producing other agricultural products, such as rice, bananas, and
mangoes; however, Post could find no reliable data on the subject.

¶A. Sugarcane

Since sugarcane is one of the largest crops in the Philippines,
sugar plantations are scattered throughout the country, with the
biggest concentrations in the provinces of Negros Occidental and
Negros Oriental in the Visayas – two provinces that produced 57
percent of the country’s total sugar production in 2007. In 2002,
the International Labor Organization International Program on the
Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC) estimated that 60,000 children
worked in sugarcane plantations nationwide. The ILO-IPEC Time-Bound
Program Baseline Survey in 2006 accounted for 5,583 children working
in the sugarcane industry. Various government and non-government
studies have documented the presence of child labor in sugarcane
plantations in the provinces of Bukidnon, Leyte, Negros Occidental,
Negros Oriental, Sarangani, and Tarlac. The underage workers on
sugarcane plantations are typically the children of adult sugar
workers or peasants who live on or just outside the plantations.

Child laborers are involved in the cane-growing phase of sugar
production, engaging in weeding, plowing, and fertilizing during
pre-production period and the cutting and hauling of cane during
harvest season. Children aged seven to 10 years old allegedly help
to plant the cane and to weed or clear the fields of tall grasses
using large cutting knives called “bolos.”

Both adults and children carry heavy loads of cane in order to earn
more money for their families. Carrying heavy loads of cane is not
only strenuous work for children but also reportedly causes injuries
and accidents, such as breaking of shoulders or spines, and other
physical damage to their developing bodies. Children are also
exposed to the hazards of extreme heat and the use of dangerous

Sources of Information:

ILO-IPEC Supporting the Time-Bound Program on the Elimination of the
Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines,

ILO-IPEC, March 2006. Time-Bound Program Baseline Survey:
Integrative Report.

Center for Investigative Research and Multimedia Services (CIRMS),
July 2005. Ang Mga Batang Negros: A Study on Child Labor Incidence
and Dynamics

De Boer, Jennifer, June 2005. Sweet Hazards: Child Labor on
Sugarcane Plantations in the Philippines. Terre des Hommes.

Rollolazo, Mildred and Luisa Logan, 2002. An In-Depth Study on the
Situation of Child Labor in the Agriculture Sector. ILO-IPEC.

Apit, Alejandro, January 2002. Child Labor in the Sugar Plantations:
A Cursory Assessment. ILO-IPEC.

——————————————— –
¶B. Firecrackers and other pyrotechnic articles
——————————————— –

MANILA 00001383 002 OF 006

The pyrotechnics industry in the Philippines is largely a
household-based, micro-level enterprise. Although there are a few
licensed large-scale manufacturers, pyrotechnics production
typically follows a sub-contracting supply chain wherein a buyer or
distributor orders the materials from a small producer. These small
producers then share the orders with groups of families with small
workshops in their backyards or within their villages. These
unlicensed workshops lack safety policies and procedures. With no
technological improvements, the manufacturers still use a crude
method of manual production with simple tools.

Many NGOs have reported that children aged five to 15 years old work
in the pyrotechnics industry, and an ILO-IPEC baseline survey in
2006 found 1,718 children working in the pyrotechnics industry.
Child workers are involved in easy tasks such as folding of brown
paper into a funnel shape and rolling and pasting cylindrical paper
tubes, both of which will be later filled with chemical powders; the
wrapping of dried fuses soaked in charcoal, potassium chlorate,
sulfur and starches; and the wrapping and labeling of finished
pyrotechnic products into packages or carton boxes. Children below
18 years old are not allowed by law to place the chemicals, a
mixture of potassium perchlorate, sulfur, aluminum, and ammonium
nitrate, into the folded or rolled paper containers. However, some
studies and NGOs observed older children aged 15 to 17 years old
helping adults in loading the chemical mixtures into the paper
containers and in inserting and sealing the fuses of firecrackers.

Children are introduced to the work without any training or
orientation on potential hazards to their health and life. Although
most child laborers are not directly handling dangerous chemicals,
the pyrotechnics workshops are located near the children’s homes or
in their own backyards, thus exposing the children to highly
flammable and combustible substances. Many children reportedly
suffer from dizziness, asthma, weight loss, sore eyes, backaches and
breathing difficulties.

Sources of Information:

Ao, Daisy Elena, February 2002. A Cursory Assessment Study on the
Situation of Child Labor in the Pyrotechnics Industry in the
Philippines. ILO-IPEC.

Balabo, Dino. “Change Comes Slowly to the Pyrotechnic Industry.”
Manila Times. December 31, 2003

Edralin, Divina, September 2002. In-Depth Study on the Situation of
Child Labor in the Pyrotechnics Industry. ILO-IPEC.

ILO-IPEC, December 2005. Employers’ Demand for Child Labor in the
Pyrotechnics and Fashion Accessories Industries in the Philippines.

ILO-IPEC, March 2006. Time-Bound Program Baseline Survey:
Integrative Report.

Interview with World Vision Development Foundation ABK 2 program
manager, April 29, 2008.

¶C. Gold ores

A 2001 National Statistics Office (NSO) survey identified 18,000
children aged five to 17 years old working in the mining and
quarrying industries, of which approximately 50 percent were between
10 and 14 years old.

Child laborers typically work in small-scale mining sites,
particularly the gold mines and gold rush areas in the provinces of
Camarines Norte and Masbate in the Bicol Region, and Bukidnon,
Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, and Surigao del Norte in
Mindanao. An ILO-IPEC project reported that it had withdrawn or
prevented 2,287 children from engaging in hazardous work in mining
areas from 2002 to 2007, while a similar World Vision project
reported that it had withdrawn or prevented 1,519 children from
doing such work from 2003 to 2007.

Extraction and production methods in small-scale mining are
labor-intensive and hazardous, and often utilize improvised
low-level technologies. These small-scale mining areas are
typically located in rural communities, where the lack of other
livelihood opportunities, particularly during off-season for farming
and fishing, pushes these communities to engage in mining. The
mining projects typically operate outside government oversight or

MANILA 00001383 003 OF 006

Families often involve their children in the gold industry. Child
laborers are reportedly involved in all phases of gold mining, from
extraction to processing, as well as collecting, sorting, and
transporting the aggregate, or cooking and cleaning the aggregate
under hazardous conditions and in locations far removed from
educational facilities or adequate social services. Children work
in make-shift tunnels exposing them to risks of landslides and
tunnel collapses. The use of mercury in gold ore processing has
resulted in numerous cases of mercury poisoning.

Sources of Information:

ILO-IPEC. 2007. Final Technical Report of the IPEC Time-Bound
Program for the Philippines.

ILO-IPEC, March 2006. Time-Bound Program Baseline Survey:
Integrative Report.

National Statistics Office. 2001. Survey on Children 5-17 Years

Tuazon, Kennedy. 2002. in-Depth Study on the Worst Forms of Child
labor in Mining and Quarrying Industries in the Philippines.

World Vision Development Foundation. 2008. Presentation on the Final
Results of the ABK Initiative (Phase 1).

¶D. Tobacco

Government and NGO studies have found the presence of child labor in
tobacco plantations in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and
Pangasinan in Northern Luzon, all among the top provinces producing
tobacco in the country. Although there are no available estimates
on the number of children working on tobacco plantations, a
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) program from 2003 to 2006,
the Elimination of Child Labor in Tobacco Industry, withdrew and
assisted 100 children, who were either frequently absent or dropped
out of school to help their family in the tobacco farms. The
program was renewed for a second phase to be implemented from 2007
to 2009, with the goal of withdrawing and assisting 200 child
workers from tobacco farms.

Child laborers are typically involved in tobacco seedbed
preparation, which includes the cultivation of plants for water
percolation, weeding, plowing of seedbeds, and assisting adults to
spray chemical fertilizers. The children also help plant,
transplant, water, and apply fertilizer to the tobacco seedlings.
During harvest time, children harvest the grown tobacco leaves and
attach the leaves to bamboo sticks for sun-drying.

On average, children work part-time from two to three hours on
schooldays and as long as 10 hours on weekends. The long hours of
work in hot weather and the use of heavy equipment deprives the
child laborers of sleep and causes fatigue. The children also
suffer injuries from the use of tools, dermatitis from the
over-exposure to the sun and fertilizer, and bites and stings from
insects in the farm. The exposure to toxic chemicals during
spraying and fertilizer application can also be hazardous to the
children’s health. Some children also suffer from asthma and
rhinitis as a result of their contact with tobacco leaves.

Sources of information:

DOLE Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW) response to U.S.
Embassy, Manila request for information on the use of worst forms of
child labor and forced labor in the production of goods. May 15,

Eliminating Child Labor in the Tobacco Industry (ECLT) Foundation
website, http://www.eclt.org.

Gapasin, Ernesto. 2003. Involvement and Participation of Child Labor
in the Tobacco Industry in Region I.

Torres, Amaryllis, et. al. February 2002. Rapid Appraisal of Child
Labor in the Tobacco Industry: Case Studies in Two Ilocos Provinces.
PARTNERS International.

¶E. Fish

According to the 2001 NSO Survey, approximately 208,000 children

MANILA 00001383 004 OF 006

aged 5 to 17 years old worked in the fishing industry. Forty-seven
percent of these children belonged to the age group 5 to 14 years,
and 91 percent were boys. Results of three 2001 ILO-IPEC studies in
Negros Oriental and Cebu identified 800 children below 18 years old
involved in or at risk of hazardous work in the fishing industry in
the two provinces. ILO-IPEC and World Vision projects combating
child labor withdrew or prevented a total of 4,191 children from
hazardous work in the deep sea fishing industry.

Employees of fishing operators called “canvassers,” and sometimes
even relatives, recruit both adult and child laborers from coastal
and upland areas to join on deep-sea fishing expeditions. The
canvassers give cash advances from 2,000 to 5,000 pesos ($47 to
$116) to the parents of the children. Some parents also take their
children on these fishing trips. Fishing expeditions typically last
from six to ten months. The main fish species caught include
roundscad, Indian sardines, Frigate tuna, skipjack, yellowfin tuna,
big-eyed scad, slipmouth, Indian mackerel and anchovies.

There are two fishing methods in which children are typically
involved – “pa-aling” and “kubkub.” The “pa-aling” method requires
fishermen to swim and dive into deep waters to scare fish from the
coral. Hoses are attached to surface air compressors to form a
bubble curtain to force fish into the fishermen’s nets. Children
also help fishermen to repair damaged equipment and to operate small
motor boats. Children reportedly work an average of 11 hours each
day and start as early as three o’clock in the morning. Many child
laborers on “pa-aling” expeditions complain of body pains, cuts,
wounds, skin diseases, eye and hearing impairment, paralysis, body
burns, exhaustion, fatigue. Children also reported that
maltreatment by the boat captain was common.

Child workers in “kubkub” fishing operations, a method in which a
ring net trawls behind the boat, are often assigned more difficult
tasks such as pulling the nets, carrying and lifting coolers,
pulling up the anchor, loading ice for the boat, operating the
winch, pulling up the weights and collecting fish using scoop nets.
Children on “kubkub” expeditions reported risks such as falling off
the boat, drowning, body burns, or becoming entangled in the
winches, ropes, or nets on the boats.

Sources of information:

DOLE Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW) response to U.S.
Embassy, Manila request for information on the use of worst forms of
child labor and forced labor in the production of goods. May 15,

Remedio, Elizabeth. 2002. Children in Pa-aling and Kubkub Fishing
Expeditions: An Assessment Report for the Deep-Sea and Fishing
Sector Studies. ILO-IPEC.

¶F. Other Commercial Agricultural Products

Although there are few available in-depth studies on child labor in
other commercial agricultural products, several NGOs report having
identified children working on farms producing other agricultural
products than sugarcane and tobacco. However, it is difficult to
determine the rate of incidence without further data or additional
anecdotal evidence.

The Kamalayan Development Foundation and ECLIPSE (Exodus from Child
Labor to Integration, Play, Socialization and Education), both
member organizations of the National Coalition Against Child Labor
in Commercial Agriculture, conducted investigations in commercial
agriculture and identified child workers working on farms producing
rice, corn, sugar, pineapple, tobacco, rubber, onion, asparagus,
durian, tiger grass, cassava, and mangoes. World Vision witnessed
children working on rice, corn, and banana plantations in areas
where the organization implemented its anti-child labor program. An
ILO-IPEC study identified child laborers in sugar, rubber, banana
and pineapple farming.

There are no available estimates on the number of child laborers
working in these specific crop farms. According to the 2001 NSO
survey, 1.3 million children aged 5 to 14 years old were found
working in commercial agriculture, 59 percent of the total number of
working children in the same age group. An ILO-IPEC baseline survey
accounted for 7,690 children working in other commercial agriculture

Child laborers on rice and corn farms are involved in land
preparation, planting of seedlings, applying fertilizer, weeding,
and harvesting. Farm owners directly hire child laborers during the

MANILA 00001383 005 OF 006

planting and harvesting seasons. Cildren earn between 40 and 150
pesos ($0.93 to $.50) a day, depending on the tasks assigned to
tem. Owners of large fruit plantations producing pneapple,
banana, mango and durian usually do nothire child workers directly.
The owners contractentire families to work on specific tasks or
harest quotas in exchange for a fixed salary. Childrn in fruit
plantations perform similar tasks as dults, including land and
seedling preparation, lanting, applying fertilizers, spraying
pesticide, and harvesting.

Child laborers in agricultureare exposed to physical, chemical and
biologicalhazards. Children perform heavy physical labor an work
long hours, often enduring extremely hot tmperatures. On fruit
farms, children are prone t slipping and falling from the fruit
trees. The are exposed to silica dust, sawdust and toxic cheicals
from the fertilizers and pesticides they aply to the plants. The
children are also prone o fungal and bacterial infections as a
result of he work on the farms.

Sources of information:
Interviews with World Vision Development Foundatin ABK 2 program
manager, April 29, 2008; and Kamlayan Development Foundation, May
23, 2008.

Ntional Coalition Against Child Labor in Commercial griculture
(NCACLCA). March 2007. Child Labor inCommercial Agriculture in the
Philippines: A Sitationer.

National Statistics Office. 2001 Surve on Children 5-17 Years Old.

Rollolazo, Mildredand Luisa Logan, 2002. An In-Depth Study on the
Stuation of Child Labor in the Agriculture Sector. LO-IPEC.

Gods Produced Using Forced Labor

¶3. There is no available informtion that would indicate significant
incidence of forced labor in the production of goods in the
Philippines. Post’s research and inquiries with government,
non-governmental and international organizations yielded no evidence
of widespread forced labor in the production of any particular

Isolated Incident of Forced Labor

In 2006, there was an isolated incident of trafficking for forced
labor on a sugarcane plantation in the Batangas province. A group
of 21 males, ranging from 15 to 39 years old, were recruited from
the province of Zambales to work on a sugarcane plantation in
Batangas. The workers were promised an initial daily salary of 120
pesos ($2.80) and were given a cash advance of 500 pesos ($11.63).
They worked 12 hours each day, harvesting and loading sugarcane in
trucks. A group of 10 to 15 workers were to be paid 1,000 pesos
($23.25), which they would divide among themselves, for every ton of
sugarcane harvested and loaded into the trucks. In actuality, each
worker earned only 66 to 100 pesos ($1.53 to $2.32), below the
declared salary and far below the prevailing minimum wage of 268
pesos ($6.23) per day.

The workers lived in makeshift barracks and were deprived of
adequate amounts of food. The management of the farm threatened to
deprive the workers of food if they were caught not working and to
kill them if they attempted to escape the farm. Four of the workers
managed to escape and reported the situation to a local NGO. In
December 2006, the National Bureau of Investigation conducted a raid
and rescued the remaining workers in the plantation. The case
remains open pending further investigation.

Use of Prison Labor

There is no recent available information on the use of prison labor
in the production of goods in the Philippines. The DOLE reported a
1998 fact-finding survey and evaluation on the use of prisoners as
industrial, agricultural, or handicraft workers in seven penal
facilities. According to DOLE’s survey, the Philippine Bureau of
Corrections entered into joint venture agreements with two private
companies to employ inmates at Manila’s New Bilibid Prison and the
Davao Prison and Penal Farm.

A company engaged in the manufacturing and export of bamboo

MANILA 00001383 006 OF 006

handicrafts, wood sculptures, printed decor, and artificial flowers
engaged the services of inmates in the New Bilibid Prison. The
production site was located within the medium security compound of
the prison. Inmate workers were paid based on per-piece rate. The
Bureau of Corrections also entered into a joint venture agreement
with a neighboring banana farm at its Davao Prison and Penal Farm.
Inmates worked on the farm and were paid the daily minimum wage.
The respondents to the survey in both prisons indicated that they
worked voluntarily and that they could refuse to work or terminate
their service anytime they wish.

There were no other reported cases of forced labor during the period
covered by the report.

Government Initiatives to Combat
Forced Labor and Child Labor

¶4. The Philippines has a strong set of laws to address the worst
forms of child labor and to criminalize the use of forced labor or
trafficked persons. DOLE is the lead government agency responsible
for enforcing child labor and forced labor laws through its labor
standards enforcement offices. DOLE employs only approximately 200
labor inspectors nationwide to monitor and enforce all aspects of
the amended Labor Code, making it difficult to investigate
complaints and violations effectively.

The Republic of 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). The Philippines ratified ILO
convention 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labor in 1960.

Specific details on the government’s child labor programs can be
found in Post’s annual Child Labor Update (ref C). Although there
is no existing government program addressing forced labor
specifically, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 penalizes
the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt
of persons for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor,
slavery, and involuntary servitude. The Labor Code also penalizes
the use of forced labor.




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