IACAT gets tough on pyro makers with child laborers

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Monday, December 23, 2013

THE Inter-Agency Against Council Trafficking (IACAT) warned manufacturers of pyrotechnic devices against hiring minors as workers in their factories or vending areas.

If they do, they should be ready to face complaints in court.

IACAT issued a stern warning against firecracker factories using children as workers in their operations, stating that operators and handlers of these shops “will be dealt with the full force of the law,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in its Twitter account.

DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima said the local government units (LGUs) down to the barangay level should monitor incidents of child labor, “especially in small shed operations that spring up in bunches when the holiday season approaches.”

“Everyone must understand that the young children subjected to the manufacturing of these pyrotechnics are not aware of the risks that they are being exposed to, and their parents who allow or even push them to work do not know any better,” said De Lima, IACAT chairperson.

Trafficking minors for labor is punishable under Republic Act (RA) 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

The law was amended through RA 10364, which does not have a confidentiality clause that offenders enjoyed while RA 9208 was in effect.

The amended version also gives individuals who rescue trafficking victims immunity from suits.

De Lima said that LGUs should adopt measures to make sure that no child will be exploited as laborers in factories of firecrackers where they are exposed to health problems.

An estimated 5.5 million children, aged five to 17, were working in 2011, according to National Statistics Office’s (NSO) preliminary results of the 2011 Survey on Children.

About 2.99 million children were working in hazardous work environment, comprising 54.5 percent of the total number of working children, NSO reported in its website.

Mines, factories and workplaces where there are chemicals are among those considered hazardous work environments, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Of the total number of children working in hazardous labor, two-thirds are boys while one-third are girls.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 23, 2013.

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