Groups launch program against child labor

Child rights advocates gathered at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium in Manila yesterday for a night of music and poetry to call for an end of child labor in the country.

The “Himig at Tula Para sa Isang Milyong Batang Malaya” event commemorated this year’s World Day Against Child Labor, a special day aimed at raising awareness against exploitation of children for economic gains.

Local artists, bands, and performers provided entertainment, including a dance routine from former child laborers themselves.

Themed “Sa Armadong Tunggalian, Sakuna, o Bagyo, Iligtas ang Bata sa Trabahong Mapang-abuso,” the event launched the campaign and implementation of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL).

The program aims to prevent and progressively eliminate child labor and to “transform the lives of child laborers, their families, and communities,” the Department of Labor and Employment said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 1.7 million children between ages of five to 17 years old suffer from child labor in the country.

Although numbers have recently slightly dipped, child labor still remains prevalent in the country due to poverty, inadequate protection and inaccessibility of education, child rights advocates said.

“There are some parents who are actually pushing their children to work,” said Julius Cainglet, Vice President for Research, Advocacy, and Partnerships at the Federation of Free Workers and one of the event’s head organizers.

“A lot of children are still involved in agricultural activities. And we all know the recent news on the cybersex dens,” he added.

Government officials, other advocates and groups called on the youth to spearhead the fight against child labor.

“The youth is a great instrument in turning the tide of this battle with the advent of today’s technology to help inform the masses the salient points in curbing the growth of child labor cases here in the Philippines,” National Anti-Poverty Commission Sectoral Representative Josh Cezar Serilo said/

National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra, who also performed at the event, said she believes in the power of the youth to combat the issue.

“Naniniwala ako na ang kabataan ang mag-aayos nitong gulo, kasi kayo yung may malilinis na ideals,” she said.

The event was organized by the National Child Labor Committee, an inter-agency, tripartite, and multi-sectoral body that leads PPACL’s implementation. (Report and photo by UP-CMC’s Reynald Denver del Rosario for Kodao Productions)