Philippines joins global campaign to end child labor-A A +A
Thursday, October 17, 2013
CATHERINE Maniado, 17, started working at the tender age of eight. She served as a domestic helper for a family.
"Sa kagustuhan ko po na makapag-aral namasukan po ako sa isang pamilya. Pinangakuan nila ako na pag-aaralin nila ako. Pinag-aral naman po nila ako pero after one year pa simula nung mag-umpisa ako sa kanila. Hindi po nila ako binabayaran, 'yung pinang-aral ko 'yun na po 'yung bayad nila sa akin," Maniado said.
Maniado was one of the three million child laborers (aged five to 17) in the country, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).
But the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Thursday that the Philippines had already stepped in the fight against child labor.
The Philippines has recently been cited by the United States Department of Labor as one of the 10 countries making significant advancement in ending the worst forms of child labor. Other countries include Brazil, Chile, Colombia,Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Peru and Thailand.
The country has also joined ILO's "Red Card to Child Labor" global campaign to end child labor by 2016, which was announced at the third Global Child Labor Conference in Brazil last week. The campaign has already gained the support of Hollywood stars as well as artists and athletes from the around the world.
The term "red card" was used since it is the term used in several sports including football, to indicate a serious offense. The football link is particularly appropriate because in some Asian countries, instead of the children playing the game, they are forced to work by making footballs.
In a statement, Cherilyn Sarkisia (Cher), an Oscar-winning actress and singer supporting the campaign, said, "The ILO is working to free millions of these children and they can use our help."
In an event on Thursday at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City, about 200 former child laborers played in the "Batang Malaya Football Tournament" in partnership with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and the Younghusband Football Academy.
Younghusband brothers Phil and James joined the campaign.
"We have to keep the children occupied; we have to allow them to express themselves through sports, especially football. (It) is one good way of doing that," Phil said.
James, for his part, said, "Children are not supposed to be in places with hazards in their health. They should be out playing and having fun."
Labor Secretary Rosalina Baldoz said, that of the three million child laborers in the Philippines, about 99 percent were involved in hazardous work. Most child laborers work in the agriculture sector, but children also work in mines, on the streets, inside factories, and in private homes as domestic workers.
Maniado, who used to be a child laborer, is currently being taken care of at the Laura V. Cuna Center, a center for abandoned children managed by nuns. She also played football during the tournament.
"Dito po sa paglalaro ng football nailalabas namin kahit papaano 'yung mga saloobin namin. Sabi nga po, i-kick-out daw po naman ang kahirapan at problema at magsaya lang bilang bata," Maniado said.
Meanwhile, Baldoz said, "May three million child laborers dito sa Pilipinas, mayroon din namang tatlong milyong dahilan at paraan para tulungan natin sila, we have to help them go back to school. We have to prepare children to land in a good job by providing good education."
Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO Country Office in the Philippines related child labor to poverty. "Child labor as a complex issue is much related to poverty. Without access to decent and productive work, parents find themselves in vulnerable forms of employment. They are forced to accept or to create whatever work is available, at the same time, to send their children to work in order to survive," he said.
The ILO said, from 2010 to 2012, the number of child laborers declined from 246 million to 168 million.
According to the ILO, there is a global progress towards ending child labor but they also pointed out that the decline is still too slow to meet the goal of ending the worst forms of child labor by 2016. (Sunnex)