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MANILA - Over the past decade, the incidence of child labor in the Philippines increased by almost 30 percent from 4.2 million in 2001 to 5.5 million last year, the 2011 Survey on Children of the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicate, alarming both the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The NSO, which ran a survey on working children last year, also said the number of children engaged in hazardous work increased by 25 percent from 2.4 million in 2001 to 3 million 2011.
Hazardous child labor was higher among boys, with 66.8 percent as compared to girls with 33.2 percent. Central Luzon (10.6 percent), Bicol (10.2 percent), Western Visayas (8.5 percent), Northern Mindanao (8.2 percent) and Central Visayas (7.3 percent) were the regions with the highest incidence of hazardous child labor.
NSO gave its findings today during the Philippine Celebration of World Day Against Child Labor in Pasig. The survey was made of the 29 million Filipino children, aged 5-17 years old.
The same survey revealed that farms are the most common place of work (55.4 percent) of children. Some 12 percent work in their own homes as a part of a family enterprise. Those working in the streets and working at sea similarly account for 9 percent of where working children are found.
Root of child labor
“We have to get to the root of child labor which is linked with poverty and lack of decent and productive work. While we strive to keep children in school and away from child labor, we need to ensure decent and productive work for parents and basic social protection for families,” said ILO Country Director for the Philippines Lawrence Jeff Johnson.
Hazardous child labor is defined as being likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals by its nature or circumstances. Children may be directly exposed to obvious work hazards such as sharp tools or poisonous chemicals. Other hazards for child laborers may be less apparent, such as the risk of abuse or problems resulting from long hours of work. Hazardous work is considered as one of the worst forms of child labor.
‘Not strictly comparable’
The ILO and the US Department of Labor also supported the past 1995 and 2001 Survey on Children. In 2001, there were 4 million working children, of which 2.4 were in hazardous child labor while in 1995, there were 3.6 million working children, of which 2.2 were in hazardous child labor.
However, previous results were not strictly comparable to the new findings of the NSO. There were revisions and improvements in capturing the overall picture of child labor in the Philippines. The 2011 Survey on Children used terms under Republic Act 9231 on the worst forms of child labor enacted in 2003 and international statistical standards adopted in 2008.
Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com