1. Child Labor in the Philippines
In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 6.5 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in the Philippines were working.1460 A 1995 study of child labor in the Philippines found that 16 percent (3.7 million) of children between the ages of 5 and 17 work, and that approximately 10 percent (2.2 million) of children in this age group work under hazardous conditions. Results from the survey indicated that boys (1.2 million) in the 5 to 14 year age group were almost twice as likely to work as girls (0.7 million) in the same age group. Children who are working are more prevalent in rural areas, where 1.3 million children aged 5 to 14 worked, in contrast to 0.6 million in urban areas.1461 With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2001 and technical assistance from the ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC), the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) will be conducting another child labor survey and updating figures from 1995 on the number of working children in the Philippines.1462
Children in the Philippines work in a variety of sectors and occupations, often under hazardous conditions. Approximately one-half of all working children in the Philippines work in agriculture,1463 many on pineapple, banana, rubber and sugar plantations.1464 It is estimated that more than 300,000 children under the age of 18 work as domestic servants. There are reports of bonded labor among domestic servants who may be required to work to reimburse advance money given to their parents.1465 Other children work alongside adult family members manufacturing footwear in their homes, working without protective gear and enduring exposure to dangerous glue and kerosene fumes.1466 Children work in quarries cutting and breaking stones, blasting rocks, and loading stones onto trucks and in small-scale gold mines.1467 Children haul cargo from the docks of ports in Mindanao and the Visayas, exposed to harmful dust and chemicals,1468 and work on pearl farms, diving into the sea to collect shells.1469 An estimated 7 percent of Filipino working children from 5 to 15 years of age work in the deep-sea fishing sector.1470 Various studies indicate that there are around 1.5 million children nationwide, with at least 100,000 in Manila, who live on the streets, where they may scavenge, beg, or perform other tasks to survive.1471
Children as young as 13 are conscripted to serve as soldiers in armed opposition groups.1472 The Communist New People’s Army (NPA) reportedly recruits children for use in both combat and non-combat situations. The Muslim insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also reportedly recruits young children to serve in its reserves.1473
Some 60,000 children are involved in the commercial sex industry. Many children are reportedly trafficked within the Philippines and to other countries and forced into prostitution. Children are trafficked from the Philippines in some cases through false adoptions for the purpose of exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation.1474
2. Children’s Participation in School
Statistics on education in the Philippines indicate improvements over the past decade. Between 1993 and 1998, net primary attendance increased from 84.9 percent to 90.8 percent,1475 and net primary school enrollment rose from 84.6 percent in 1990 to 95.7 percent in 1998.1476
Nationwide, approximately 65 percent of children completed the sixth grade in 1997, an improvement from 62.7 percent in 1990. However, when disaggregated by region, this increase can be attributed to increasing rates in urban areas among both males and females; in rural areas, there was a decrease of almost 14 percent, from 73.8 percent in 1990 to 60.6 percent in 1996.1477 In general, repetition rates are high for both boys and girls in rural areas. However, the repetition rate for boys is higher than that of girls in both rural and urban areas.1478
Still, for many working children in the Philippines, schooling is not an option. In 1995, approximately 30 percent of working children did not attend school.1479 Although the government covers the tuition costs of public primary and secondary schools, many poor families are unable to meet numerous peripheral costs such as uniforms, school supplies, books, and transportation. Low quality of schooling, large class sizes, insufficient numbers of teachers and inadequate facilities are also factors discouraging children from attending school.1480
The Asian Crisis had a negative impact on school enrollment in the Philippines, with an estimated 240,00 children between the ages of 6 and 12 out of school in 1998 as compared to less than 100,000 in 1997. The total enrollment for secondary schools also fell by an estimated 7 percent in 1998.1481
3. Child Labor Law and Enforcement
The Philippine Labor Code of 1993 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 15, although children under the age of 15 are permitted to work if they are under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, and if the work does not interfere with schooling. Article 139 of the Labor Code restricts children under the age of 18 from engaging in hazardous work.1482 The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Order No. 4 of 1999 outlines categories of hazardous work and prohibits the employment of children in these categories. The list includes work with dangerous substances (e.g., adhesives used in footwear manufacture), work hazardous to morals (e.g., employment in dance halls), work that entails exposure to extreme elements of cold, heat, noise or pressure (e.g., deep-sea diving and underground work), and work that is hazardous by its nature (e.g., mining, logging and pyrotechnics production).1483
Policy Instruction No. 23 of 1977 prohibits night work for children under the age of 16 years from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and forbids children ages 16 to 18 from working after 10 p.m.1484
Penalties for violating Philippine child labor laws range from fines of 1,000 to 10,000 pesos (US$25 to US$253), imprisonment from three months to three years, or both. Businesses found to be in repeated violation of these laws may have their operating licenses revoked.1485
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610 of 1992, the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, stipulates penalties for the trafficking, prostitution and abuse of children. The act imposes sentences of 12 years to life on individuals who engage in or promote specific types of child exploitation such as child prostitution and the trafficking of children. A sentence of six to 12 years is rendered for various acts of exploitation, such as having children perform indecent exhibitions. R.A. No. 7658 of 1993 amended the act to set the minimum work age at 15 years except in the cases provided for by the Philippine Labor Code.1486 The government prosecutes accused pedophiles and has made efforts to expand its law enforcement in this area.1487
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is primarily responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws.1488 DOLE conducts both routine and complaint-driven inspections to follow up on allegations of child labor law violations. Violations are then reported to the court system for future action.1489 DOLE maintains responsibility for cases involving wage and working conditions, while the family courts deal with exploitative child labor suits.1490 In addition, the government’s Commission on Human Rights maintains child rights centers in all regions of the Philippines that monitor and investigate cases of child labor.1491
Labor inspectors are given specialized training on child labor issues, and a training manual on child labor inspections has been produced with the assistance of ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC).1492 Despite these efforts, child labor enforcement is reportedly weak. Nationwide, 253 labor inspectors are responsible for about 82,000 registered businesses concerns, primarily in the formal sector.1493
The Philippine Government ratified ILO Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Employment on June 4, 1998, and ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor on November 28, 2000.1494
4. Addressing Child Labor and Promoting Schooling
a. Child Labor Initiatives
The Philippines became a member of ILO-IPEC in 1994 and developed a national plan of action to address child labor. The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), which includes representatives from several government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and trade unions, functions as a steering committee for national child labor programs and promulgates policies and guidelines on child labor issues.1495 Regional child labor committees work with the NCLC to coordinate programs with the support of local implementation committees.1496 These committees have access to government funding for child labor projects.1497
The government’s interagency “Rescue the Child Workers” ( Sagip Batang Manggagawa) Program, was established in 1994 at the regional and national levels to ensure quick responses to child labor problems and to focus on the most hazardous forms of child labor.1498
The Government of the Philippines has worked to eliminate the illegal recruitment of children into employment. It has established more stringent standards for youths seeking jobs abroad, which include standards for age, education, and professional level. In March 2000, the Philippine Government and the United States co-sponsored a conference as part of the Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking in Women and Children (ARIAT). The conference led to the development of a comprehensive action plan to combat trafficking within the Asia-Pacific region through the enhancement of measures for prevention, protection and prosecution.1499
The government has worked with ILO-IPEC on a number of projects addressing child labor in specific sectors, including quarrying, mining, ports, plantations, domestic service and the production of pyrotechnics.1500 A 1999 ILO-IPEC program with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to combat child labor in the fishing sector focuses on the withdrawal of children engaged in deep-sea fishing, including the practice known as pa aling .1501 In 1999, the Philippines joined an ILO-IPEC subregional project to combat child labor in the footwear sector in Laguna.1502
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is involved in providing care and assistance to children removed from involvement with the Communist New People’s Army.1503 DSWD, and various NGOs and local groups provide assistance, including shelters and rehabilitation centers, to child victims of pornography, prostitution and trafficking.1504
The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) performs opinion surveys on child labor and promotes awareness raising on child labor issues through a nationwide multimedia campaign, training for anti-child labor advocates, and workshops on communication strategies for government officials.1505 Community watch programs through an NGO called the Visayan Forum Foundation (VF) monitor working children and educate them about their rights.1506 As an organization, VF focuses its efforts on raising awareness about the plight of child domestic workers in the Philippines and providing assistance to these children.1507
b. Educational Alternatives
Philippine law mandates six years of compulsory primary education for children between the ages of 6 and 11.1508 The compulsory education age (11 years) in the Philippines, however, does not coincide with the minimum age (15 years) for employment.1509
Through DWSD’s Early Childhood Development Project, the government targets young children under the age of 6 in poor rural and urban areas to prepare them for elementary schooling.1510 The program, however, has low rates of gross enrollment and is utilized much more heavily in urban centers than in rural areas.1511 The Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) conducts various programs for working children, including the Functional Education and Literacy Program. This program provides basic education and skills training to children who have dropped out of school and to adults. DECS also provides programs for the parents and older siblings of child laborers to improve their earnings potential and reduce the factors that may cause young children to work.1512
The Bureau of Nonformal Education (BNFE) is a fundamental part of DECS’ strategy to address the problem of child labor, providing remedial instruction for working children and home study programs. In 1999, BNFE began a non-formal education accreditation and equivalency system (NFE A&E) to help children over the age of 15 who drop out of school to gain school certification so that they can enter post-secondary education levels of education. The government also supports distance learning programs and mobile tent schools. The National Project on Street Children provides educational assistance to street children through a network of government, nongovernment and community organizations.1513 In addition, as part of a program of cooperation (1999 to 2003) between the Government of the Philippines and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), assistance is provided for children in need of special protection, including working children. The program of cooperation also supports Education for All initiatives in the country.1514
The government spent 10.8 percent of the national budget on education in 1994.1515 The percentage of the government’s education budget which is spent on primary schools is increasing, from 40.1 percent in 1990 to 52 percent in 1998.1516 Total government spending on education as a percentage of gross national product (GNP) from 1995 to 1997 has ranged from 3 percent to 3.4 percent.1517
5. Selected Data on Government Expenditures
The following bar chart presents selected government expenditures expressed as a percentage of GNP. The chart considers government expenditures on education, the military, health care, and debt service. Where figures are available, the portion of government spending on education that is specifically dedicated to primary education is also shown.1518
While it is difficult to draw conclusions or discern clear correlations between areas of government expenditure as a percentage of GNP and the incidence of child labor in a country, this chart and the related tables presented in Appendix B (Tables 14 through 19) offer the reader a basis for considering the relative emphasis placed on each spending area by the governments in each of the 33 countries profiled in the report.
1460 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2000 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000 [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2000 ].
1461 Children of the Philippines and Working Children and Their Environment fact sheets on the Survey of Children 5-17 Years Old, July 1995, by the National Statistics Office [fact sheets on file]. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), statistics are based on data collected by the Philippine National Statistics Office in 1995, in collaboration with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment and ILO-IPEC’s National Survey on Working Children. According to the survey, about 1.9 million children from 5 to 14 years old work (11 percent of the child population in this age group). The East Asian Crisis or the Asian Financial Crisis may have increased the labor participation rates of children in the Philippines. See Joseph Y. Lim, The East Asian Crisis and Child Labor in the Philippines , ILO-IPEC Working Paper 2000 (www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/policy/ papers/philippines/indexpr.html). Among the factors contributing to the incidence of child labor in the Philippines are poverty (particularly the need to contribute income to the family), traditions and cultural practices, and the need to work to cover school expenses. Adolescents in the Labor Force , Monograph Series No. 3 (Manila: Institute for Labor Studies, March 1996), 10-16.
1462 Programme Document for the U.S. Department of Labor, July 2001. Statistical Information Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC): Survey of Working Children, Philippines. International Labor Organization, International Child Labor Program on the Elimination of Child Labor.
1463 Report on National Survey of Working Children in the Philippines (Manila: ILO, 1998), 17.
1464 Interview with Alejandro Apit of Kamalayan Development Foundation by U.S. Department of Labor official in Manila, April 6, 2000. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2000), 6d [hereinafter Country Reports 1999—Philippines ].
1465 Ibid. at Section 6c. See also Trip notes by U.S. Department of Labor official, testimony given during Visayan Forum Conference on Domestic Servitude in Davao, April 7, 2000.
1466 One explanation given for why children do not use protective gloves when spreading glue to make shoes is that glue would stick to the gloves, wasting costly supplies for their families. Interview by U.S. Department of Labor official with children in Biñan during site visit to IPEC footwear project in the Philippines, April 5, 2000.
1467 Juan Escandor, Jr., “Child Labor Extensive in Gold Rush Site,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 6, 2000.
1468 Notes for site visit to Sasa Port, Davao, by U.S. Department of Labor official, April 7, 2000; see also Country Reports 1999—Philippines .
1469 Alejandro W. Apit, Child Recruitment and Some Most Hazardous Forms of Child Labor in the Philippines: A KDF’s Experience (Metro Manila: Kamalayan Development Foundation, Inc., January 1998), 145-46.
1470 Collection and Dissemination of Data on Child Labour in Asia , Table 11, 147.
1471 For more information on street children in the Philippines, including stories from 25 children, see Cornelio G. Banaag, Jr., Resiliency: Stories Found in Philippine Streets (Manila: AusAID, the National Project on Street Children, and UNICEF, 1997). Reports indicate that these numbers are increasing due to high rural unemployment . Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, February 2001), Section 5 [hereinafter Country Reports 2000—Philippines ].
1472 Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 (www.child-soldiers.org/report2001/countries/philippines.html) [hereinafter Child Soldiers Global Report 2001] .
1473 Country Reports 1999—Philippines at 1264. See Also Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 .
1474 Ibid. See also “Philippine Country Paper and National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children” (submission of the Government of the Philippines for the March 29-31, 2000, meeting of the Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking in Women and Children (ARIAT)) 2, 3, 16 [document on file].
1475 USAID, GED 2000: Global Education Database [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000.
1476 Philippines: Education for All (EFA) 2000, Philippine Assessment Report (Manila: National Committee on Education for All and the Republic of the Philippines, October 1999), 51-52 [hereinafter Philippines: Education for All ].
1477 Ibid at 47-48.
1479 Education of the Working Children, fact sheet from the Survey of Children 5-17 Years Old: July 1995, by the National Statistics Office. The survey also found that more children working in rural areas attend school than those in urban areas.
1480 Feny de los Angeles-Bautista and Joanna C. Arriola, To Learn and To Earn: Education and Child Labor in the Philippines: A Country Report (Manila: ILO-IPEC, December 1995), 10-14 [hereinafter To Learn and To Earn ].
1481 Joseph Y. Lim, The East Asian Crisis and Child Labor in the Philippines , ILO-IPEC Working Paper 2000 (www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/policy/papers/philippines/indexpr.htm), 1-2.
1482 Rosario del Rosario and Melinda A. Bonga, Child Labor in the Philippines: A Review of Selected Studies and Policy Papers (Manila: University of the Philippines, 2000), 173-75 [hereinafter Child Labor in the Philippines ]. Under the Labor Code, the Secretary of Labor may determine the hours and times during the day when children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work.
1483 Department Order No. 4, Series of 1999: Hazardous Work and Activities to Persons Below 18 Years of Age (Manila: Republic of the Philippines, Department of Labor and Employment, 1999).
1484 Opening Doors: A Presentation of Laws Protecting Filipino Child Workers , rev. ed. (Makati City: Ateneo Human Rights Center and ILO, 1997), 71-72.
1485 Ibid. at 75.
1486 Child Labor in the Philippines at 175-77.
1487 Country Reports 1999—Philippines at 1264.
1488 U.S. Embassy-Manila, unclassified telegram no. 005853, September 11, 2000 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 005853].
1489 U.S. Embassy-Manila, unclassified telegram no. 014481, November 20, 1997, and U.S. Embassy-Manila, unclassified telegram no. 02110, February 20, 1998.
1490 Unclassified telegram 005853. In 1998, the Government of the Philippines initiated a family court system to help expedite juvenile and domestic relations cases and enhance protections for children against their sale and trafficking abroad. See also Country Reports 1999—Philippines at 1264.
1491 Unclassified telegram 005853.
1492 For more information on the contents of the course, see A Training Guide for Specialized Training on Child Labor for the Philippine Labor Inspectorate (Manila: Department of Labor and Employment’s Bureau of Working Conditions and ILO-IPEC, 1997).
1493 Among the reasons cited as contributing to weak enforcement are inadequate judicial infrastructure and legislative shortcomings such as absence of coverage in the informal sector, insufficient penalties, and a low rate of conviction. Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment, interview by U.S. Department of Labor official, Manila, Philippines, 4 March 2002 [document on file].
1494 For a list of which countries profiled in Chapter 3 have ratified ILO Conventions No. 138 and No. 182, see Appendix C.
1495 U.S. Embassy-Manila, unclassified telegram no. 004103, June 23, 2000 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 004103]; see also unclassified telegram 005853.
1496 Unclassified telegram 005853.
1497 Unclassified telegram 004103.
1499 Country Reports 1999—Philippines at 1268.
1500 ILO-IPEC in the Philippines [document on file]
1501 Programme to Combat Child Labour in the Fishing Sector in Indonesia and the Philippines, ILO-IPEC project document [on file]. The project focuses on Negros Oriental and Cebu.
1502 ILO-IPEC, Programme to Combat Child Labour in the Footwear Sector in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, project document [document on file].
1503 Country Reports 1999—Philippines at 1264. See also U.S. Embassy-Manila, unclassified telegram 004103.
1504 Unclassified telegram 004103.
1507 Established in 1991, Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VF) is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in the Philippines that focuses on migrant working children. For further information on VF, see Terre de Homme , “Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.” (www.tdhsea.org/phil_6.htm); cited October 24, 2001.
1508 Facts and Figures on Philippine Education (Pasig City: Department of Education, Culture and Sports, 1997), 11. See also To Learn and to Earn at 2.
1509 By the Sweat and Toil of Children: Efforts to Eliminate Child Labor, vol. 5 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 1998), 190-91. This discrepancy may contribute to illegal child labor. If children complete their compulsory education by the age of 11 and are unable to continue their studies, they must either remain unemployed until they become 15 or work illegally.
1510 Unclassified telegram 004103. Specialized assistance is also available for children with special needs.
1511 Philippines: Education for All at 54.
1512 Unclassified telegram 004103.
1514 CPC VS Program of Cooperation for Child Survival, Protection, Development and Participation in the Philippines: Master Plan of Operations between the Government of the Philippines and UNICEF, 1999-2000 (Manila: Government of the Republic of the Philippines and UNICEF, February 1999), 99-101, 125-28.
1515 To Learn and To Earn at 5-6.
1516 Philippines: Education for All at 52. As noted in Country Reports 1999—Philippines (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, February 2000, 1264), the percentage of the costs of primary schooling covered by the government has been decreasing, from 80 percent of the costs in the 1980s to 69 percent by the mid-1990s. However, it is unclear whether this is related to population growth.
1517 World Development Indicators 2000 .
1518 See Chapter 1, Section C, 5, for a fuller discussion of the information presented in the box. See also Appendix B for further discussion, and Tables 14 through 19 for figures on government expenditure over a range of years.