/ 21 June 2022

MORE than 90,000 children have been rescued from doing harmful work since the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) started profiling child laborers in 2018.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the initiative aims to create a database that will serve as a basis for providing appropriate services and interventions necessary to eliminate child labor.

Bello said the profiling is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017–2022 goal of reducing child labor cases by 30 percent.

“Since 2018, the labor department has already collected the key demographic information of over 400,000 child laborers nationwide,” he said.

“The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated that 597,000 children are still engaged in child labor, mostly working in the agriculture sector,” he added.

Online sexual abuse

Meanwhile, DOLE reported that cases of online sex abuse and exploitation in children spiked by 264 percent during the height of the Covid19 pandemic.

This “alarming” rate of increase could be attributed to the Philippines’ affordable and easily accessible internet packages, a study by the Institute of Labor Studies said.

“Affordable internet access also contributes to enabling impoverished households to participate in this money-making scheme,” ILS Researcher Frances Camille Dumalaog shared.

The study noted that other reasons for the proliferation of online sex abuse and exploitation of children could be due to the robust money transfer infrastructure, high proficiency in the English language and widespread poverty.

To address the issue of poverty, the labor department said it provides several social amelioration packages for families of identified child laborers.

“Through the [profiling] database, DOLE can identify and provide appropriate interventions to remove children from child labor. These include providing livelihood assistance programs for parents of child laborers given that they will stop engaging their children in hazardous work,” Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, DOLE – Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns director, said.

DOLE’s Project Angel Tree, Special Program for Employment of Students, and intensified Labor Inspection program are also some of the labor department’s key programs to address child labor.