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Cablegate: Ambassador Launches Project to Combat Child Labor

VZCZCXRO4603
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0361 0421013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111013Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9715
INFO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 000361

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, G/TIP, DRL/ILCSR
LABOR FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PHUM ETRD KCRM RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR LAUNCHES PROJECT TO COMBAT CHILD LABOR

REF: A. STATE 10273 (GSP Interim Demarche)

B. 07 MANILA 3857 (2007 Child Labor Update)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Ambassador joined Philippine Labor and
Employment Secretary Arturo Brion and other government and NGO
leaders on February 7 to launch a $5.5 million project funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor to combat the worst forms of child labor
and to improve child laborers' access to education. The project,
led by the U.S.-based NGO World Vision, seeks to remove and prevent
30,000 children from engaging in dangerous and hazardous work, such
as commercial sexual exploitation, mining and quarrying, and
firecracker manufacturing. The Ambassador also delivered demarche
to Secretary Brion on USG concerns about labor rights protection and
the need for progress on investigating and prosecuting alleged
extrajudicial killings, particularly those of labor leaders and
activists (ref A). END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On February 7, the Ambassador joined Labor and Employment
Secretary Arturo Brion and World Vision Philippines Executive

SIPDIS
Director Elnora Avarientos to inaugurate a USG-funded project to
support and enhance the Philippine government's efforts to eliminate
the worst forms of child labor. In September, the U.S. Department
of Labor (USDOL) awarded a grant of $5.5 million to a collective
group of three NGOs - World Vision, Christian Children's Fund, and
the Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation.
World Vision and the other NGOs will work closely with local
government leaders, teachers, and parents in at-risk communities to
raise awareness about the hazards of exploitative child labor and to
help return many former child laborers to the classroom.

3. (U) The four-year project seeks to remove 18,000 children and
prevent another 12,000 from engaging in hazardous work in sugarcane
plantations, domestic work, commercial sexual exploitation, mining
and quarrying, garbage scavenging, and firecracker manufacturing.
World Vision will build upon the partnerships and collaborative
efforts of its previous USDOL-funded project, known as "the ABK
Initiative," in which more than 31,000 children were removed or
prevented from engaging in the worst forms of child labor from 2003
to 2007. The Philippine government estimates that as many as four
million children aged 5 to 17 years are economically active; of
these four million, 60 percent may be working in hazardous and
dangerous environments.

4. (U) The Ambassador commended the Departments of Education and
Labor and Employment for their partnerships with NGOs both to remove
children from the worst forms of child labor and to improve the
educational opportunities for these children in at-risk communities.
The event attracted a mix of print and broadcast media, leading to
several articles in the major dailies that featured the Ambassador's
remarks and information about the new grant. Post will forward
highlights of the press coverage, as well as a copy of the
Ambassador's remarks, to the U.S. Department of Labor and EAP.

5. (SBU) The Ambassador also used the opportunity to raise with
Secretary Brion USG concerns about labor rights protection and the

SIPDIS
alleged extrajudicial killings of labor leaders, as requested by the
USG interagency committee reviewing the Generalized System of
Preferences (GSP) benefits for the Philippines (ref A). Secretary
Brion, well aware of the ongoing GSP review in Washington, noted his
commitment to resolving the matter and appreciated the USG's
recommendations. Senior members of the Mission's country team will
continue to raise these concerns with Philippine government
officials at the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Interior
and Local Government, Labor and Employment, and Trade and
Investment. These meetings are ongoing and will be reported
septel.


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website: http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

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