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Cablegate: Philippines: Child Labor Update 2007


DE RUEHML #3857/01 3400949
O 060949Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 158223
B. MANILA 788 (2007 Trafficking in Persons Report)
C. 06 MANILA 5026 (2006 Child Labor Update)

1. Summary: This cable provides input requested for the Secretary of
Labor's annual report to Congress on the implementation of
commitments to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor (reftel a).
It updates information provided by Post in 2006 (reftel c) regarding
child labor laws and regulations in the Philippines, law enforcement
capabilities, social programs aimed at prevention, statistics on
child labor and child education, and government policies and
programs to combat child labor and child trafficking.

2. Sources of information used during the preparation of this update
include the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),
the International Labor Organization (ILO), World Vision, and
Winrock International. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --
Laws Proscribing the Worst Forms of Child Labor
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3. The Philippines uses a strong set of laws to protect the rights
and welfare of children, especially those working in hazardous
conditions or in the worst forms of child labor. Republic Act 9231
of 2003, "An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of
Child Labor and Affording Strong Protection for the Working Child,"
amends the Labor Code and codifies regulations set forth in the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO Convention 182.

4. Republic Act 9231 defines the worst forms of child labor as: (1)
the trafficking, debt bondage and forced labor of children,
including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; (2)
child prostitution and pornography; (3) the use of a child for
illegal or illicit activities, including drug trafficking; and (4)
work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is
carried out, is hazardous. Criteria for categorizing work as
hazardous include work that: degrades the worth and dignity of a
child; exposes the child to physical, psychological, or sexual
abuse; is performed underground, underwater or at dangerous heights;
involves the use of dangerous machinery, equipment and tools;
requires the handling of heavy loads; exposes children to extreme
temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations; is performed under
particularly difficult conditions; exposes the child to dangerous
biological agents; or involves the manufacture or handling of
explosives and other pyrotechnic products. Those found guilty of
the worst forms of child labor may be fined between 100,000 and 1
million pesos (between USD $2,148 and USD $21,482), and/or
imprisoned for 12 to 20 years.

5. The Labor Code prohibits the employment of children under the age
of 15, except when working directly with a parent and when the work
does not endanger the child's life, safety, health, or morals, or
interfere with schooling. Children under 15 are allowed to work in
the media industry, including cinema, theater, television, and
radio, when the child's participation is essential to the
production. The law requires that any child under age 15 employed
under these guidelines must receive a special permit from the DOLE,
but does not define the absolute minimum age for employment by
children. The Armed Forces of the Philippines does not recruit
soldiers below 18 years of age. However, there were reports
indicating that rebel groups including the New People's Army and the
Abu Sayyaf Group continued to recruit minors (below age 18).

6. Republic Act 9231 also amends the limits on children's working
hours. Children below 15 years are not allowed to work more than
four hours a day, and work should not exceed twenty hours per week.
Children below 15 years are not allowed to work between 8:00 p.m.
and 6:00 a.m. Children aged 16 to 17 are not allowed to work
between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

7. Republic Act 9208 of 2003 criminalizes trafficking in persons,
including trafficking for adoption, sex tourism, prostitution,
pornography, the recruitment of children into armed conflict, or
under the guise of arranged marriage. The trafficking of a child
brings higher penalties of life imprisonment and a fine of 2 to 5
million pesos (USD $42,965 to USD $107,411). Trafficking is also a
non-bailable offense. The law entitles victims and survivors to
counseling, temporary shelter, health care, legal assistance, and
access to the government's witness protection program.

8. Other laws used by government to protect the welfare of children
include: Republic Act 7610 of 1992, "Special Protection of Children
Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act," which
criminalized child prostitution and sexual abuse, child trafficking,
child pornography, and other acts of child abuse; and Republic Act
8043 of 1995, "Inter-Country Adoption Act," which ensured the
protection of Filipino children from abuse, exploitation,
trafficking, and/or sale.

9. The Republic of the Philippines has signed and ratified the major
international agreements to protect the rights and welfare of
children, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
(ratified in January 1990); the Optional Protocol on the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (ratified in
April 2002); ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age (ratified in June
1998); and ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
(ratified in November 2000).

Implementation of Laws Remains Limited

10. While Republic Act 9231's passage improved the legal protections
for working children, full implementation of this law faces the same
challenges as other social legislation: limited awareness and
training in the law; low numbers of law enforcement, Department of
Labor and Employment, or Department of Justice (DOJ) resources; a
lack of focus on enforcement; and a lengthy prosecution process.
The continuing challenge, as with combating trafficking in persons,
is to translate existing laws into increased prosecutions and
convictions in order to catch perpetrators and deter future
violations of international norms and Philippine law, as well as
alleviate the underlying economic and social conditions that
perpetuate child labor.

11. DOLE is the lead government agency responsible for enforcing
child labor laws through its labor standards enforcement offices.
DOLE employs approximately 200 labor inspectors nationwide to
monitor and enforce all aspects of the amended Labor Code, making it
difficult to investigate complaints and violations of child labor

12. DOLE leads the "Sagip Batang Manggagawa" (Rescue the Child
Workers, or SBM) program, an interagency quick action mechanism
composed of DOLE, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau
of Investigation (NBI), and DSWD. The SBM interagency mechanism
removed 1,693 child labor victims from harmful situations between
2001 and 2007. From January to September 2007, SBM conducted 49
removal operations involving 138 child workers. The minors were
referred to the DSWD for rehabilitation and reintegration.

13. Through October, DOLE has not ordered any closure of
establishments employing child labor in violation of Republic Act
9231. Prosecutions and convictions for child labor continue to be
limited. Since 1995, six people accused in four cases have been
convicted of violating the child labor law. From January to
October, three cases under the Act were filed and were pending trial
in metro Manila. DOLE's Bureau of Women and Young Workers noted
that data on child labor prosecutions may be inaccurate due to
incomplete statistics from the provinces. In March, a DOLE-led team
removed ten minors working in a garment factory in Quezon City,
metro Manila. The government filed charges against the owner of the
factory and trial was ongoing.

14. The government continued to conduct awareness raising activities
on child labor and child trafficking laws. On October 24,
approximately 40 members from PNP, DOJ, Commission on Human Rights,
Bureau of Immigration, and DOLE participated in an orientation on
"Sagip Batang Manggagawa." DOLE also regularly conducted child
labor training programs for their approximately 200 labor inspectors
nationwide. The government acknowledged that the limited number of
labor inspectors, who assess the establishments' compliance on
general labor standards and are not entirely focused on the
employment of child labor, made it difficult to enforce child labor

Government Policies and Programs

15. The Philippine National Strategic Framework for Plan Development
for Children, 2000-2025, also known as "Child 21," and the National
Program Against Child Labor (NPACL) Framework are the primary
government policy instruments for the development, implementation,
monitoring, and evaluation of programs designed to prevent and
eliminate child labor in the Philippines. The Medium Term
Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010 also includes measures for
reducing the incidence of child labor, especially in hazardous
occupations. In the plan, the Philippine Government pledges to
strengthen mechanisms to monitor the implementation of child
protection laws; develop "social technologies" to respond to child
trafficking and pornography; and implement an enhanced program for
children in armed conflict.

16. In August 2007, the DOLE launched the NPACL strategic framework
for 2007-2015. Under the new strategic framework, the government
will create a national monitoring system against child labor,
including a nationwide database of incidents of child labor. The
framework also included plans to establish Barangay (village)
Councils for the Protection of Children. These community-level
councils would work with the DOLE-led "Sagip Batang Maggagawa" Quick
Action Teams to improve monitoring and implementation. Under the
new framework, the government hopes to improve the access of
withdrawn child laborers to education and health services, and to
identify decent work opportunities for families and communities.

17. The Philippine government participated in several U.S.
Department of Labor-funded initiatives to combat child labor in the
country in 2006 and 2007. The key programs, implemented by the ILO,
World Vision, and Winrock International, were:

-- ILO-IPEC implementation of Philippine Time-Bound Program
(PTBP): This program supported the Philippine government's goal of
reducing the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) by 75 percent by
2015. The project, which began in 2002 and ended in August 2007,
covered the six sectors of WFCL in eight provinces. According to
ILO-IPEC, the program withdrew and prevented approximately 42,400
children from worst forms of child labor through counseling,
education, and reintegration with their families. About 9,500 family
members of child laborers received livelihood support such as access
to micro-credit, provision of basic literacy and vocational
training, and assistance in starting micro enterprises.

-- The ABK Education Initiative: World Vision, along with a number
of NGO partners, implemented this education component of the PTBP.
ABK Initiative provides transitional or vocational education
programs for working children as well as those identified to be
"at-risk." Since the project was implemented in 2003, 31,307
children have been enrolled in formal or informal education in 10

-- Combating Child Soldiers: ILO-IPEC implemented this program to
reduce the incidence of child soldiers in Mindanao. ILO-IPEC
estimates that at least 2,000 children or minors may be child
soldiers in the Philippines. In 2006, the project withdrew and/or
prevented 302 children from armed conflict and reintegrated them
into mainstream society. About 40 percent (120) of these minors
were enrolled in elementary grades, high school, or college, while
the remaining 60 percent (182) were given vocational skills
training. Also in 2006, ILO conducted public awareness campaigns
against the involvement of children in armed conflict through 22
radio stations in Mindanao;

-- Increasing Public Awareness and Capacities of National and Local
Alliances through Program and Policy Advocacies Towards Realization
of Time Bound Education Agenda: ILO-IPEC launched this program in
May 2005 as part of the regional project "APEC Awareness-Raising
Campaign: Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Providing
Educational Opportunities." The project aims to engage key
stakeholders through national alliances in the development of
education materials, and conduct awareness-raising activities as
well as policy advocacy for education;

-- The CIRCLE project: On its second phase of implementation in 27
countries including the Philippines, the "Community-based
Innovations to Combat Child Labor through Education" (CIRCLE)
project supported seven local organizations to conduct innovative
and community-based awareness-raising and education programs in
areas of high incidence of child labor. At the end of the project,
1,446 children have been withdrawn and/or prevented from child labor
and enrolled instead in formal and informal education.

18. In September 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded USD $5.5
million to World Vision, Christian Children's Fund and the
Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, to
implement a second phase of the ABK Education Initiative. The
four-year project aims to withdraw and prevent an estimated 30,000
children from working on sugarcane plantations and other commercial
agriculture plantations, as domestic workers, in commercial sexual
exploitation, mining and quarrying, pyrotechnics production, and
garbage scavenging.

19. DOLE is also implementing a project, funded by the Geneva-based
Elimination of Child Labor in Tobacco (ECLT) Foundation, to reduce
the incidence of child labor in tobacco fields in the Ilocos region.
During the first phase of the project, DOLE awarded two-year
scholarship grants to 100 children, as well as alternative
livelihood assistance and basic entrepreneurial training to their
families. The project also conducted awareness-raising activities
for about 2,000 participants in five municipalities. In October
2006, the ECLT Foundation awarded about USD $400,000 to DOLE for the
implementation of the second phase of the project. With the ECLT
Foundation funds, DOLE will provide scholarship grants to 86 of the
100 student beneficiaries of the first phase, as well as two-year
scholarship grants to 200 new beneficiaries.

20. The government devoted considerable resources to the education
of children. The Department of Education (DepEd) had the largest
budget of any cabinet department: 12 percent of the national budget.
Elementary and secondary education is free and compulsory through
age 11, but the quality of education remained poor due in part to
inadequate resources. Government support for the education of poor
children is provided indirectly through the public school system
rather than through targeted subsidies. For the school year
2006-07, public school enrollment rate for elementary was 76
percent, slightly increased from 74 percent for the school year

21. DepEd's Bureau of Non-Formal Education develops and encourages
the use of learning modules for parents of working children in
various regions with high incidence of the worst forms of child
labor. Translated into local dialects, the modules educated parents
about their children's health needs and basic rights and
opportunities for livelihood and income-generating projects. DepEd
also operates a home-study program designed to prevent students from
quitting school due to poverty, illness, or early marriage. With
assistance from POEA and CFO, DepEd incorporated lessons on
international migration (including illegal recruitment and mail
order brides) into social studies and values education in public
elementary and high schools throughout the country.

Child Labor Statistics

22. The 2000/2001 National Survey on Children (NSC) estimated that
as many as four million children aged 5 to 17 years were
economically active -- 16.2 percent of the total population of
children in that age group. Of the four million child workers, an
estimated 60 percent, or 2.4 million, were exposed to hazardous
working environments. The January 2007 Labor Force Survey,
conducted and published by the National Statistics Office, estimated
that approximately 906,000, or 4.2 percent of the total 21.5 million
children 5 to 14 years old, are economically active. (Note: The
Labor Force Survey cited a lower number of working children since it
relied on "the past seven days" as the reference period used in the
survey, compared to the national survey, which used "the past year"
as the reference period. End Note.)

23. The Philippine Time-Bound Program identified six specific
industries employing worst forms of child labor: sugarcane
plantations, pyrotechnics production, deep-sea fishing, mining and
quarrying, domestic service, and the commercial sex industry.
However, there were no available data on the number of children
working in these industries. In the 2000/2001 National Survey, more
than half of the working children (2.1 million) were found in
agriculture, hunting and forestry. About 71 percent of the children
in agriculture were male, and about 60 percent were aged 5-14 years
old. Other industry groups where high number of children work were
in wholesale and retail services (747,000 or 18.6 percent), domestic
work (230,000 or 5.7 percent), fishing (208,000 or 5.2 percent), and
manufacturing (186,000 or 4.6 percent). During the assessment of
the NPACL 2001-2006 in August, the National Child Labor Committee
identified other industries employing worst forms of child labor,
including commercial rice, corn, and banana plantations, and garbage

Combating Child Trafficking

24. The Philippines is an origin, destination and, to a lesser
extent, a transit country for children trafficked for the purposes
of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Children and young women
from poor farming communities in the Visayas (the central
Philippines) and Mindanao (the southern Philippines) are brought to
major urban centers and employed as factory workers, domestic
helpers or prostitutes. Victims of trafficking for sexual
exploitation are generally girls, with ages ranging from 7 to 16
years old. Most of these children come from very poor families with
unemployed or irregularly employed parents.

25. Child prostitution is a serious problem, driven by the
Philippines' popularity as a destination for sex tourists as well as
economic and demographic conditions. Sex tourists reportedly come
from Europe, North America, and Asia to engage in sexual activity
with minors. UNICEF and local NGOs estimate that 60,000 to 100,000
children work in the commercial sex industry. DSWD estimates an
increase of 3,200 prostituted children each year. The American
Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) recorded 37
incidents of child trafficking involving 97 victims for the period
April 2006-March 2007. The government cooperates with the USG in
prosecuting American nationals under the terms of the U.S. PROTECT
Act of 2003, which criminalized the commission by American nationals
overseas of child abuse, including child pornography and other
sexual offenses against a minor.

26. The Philippine Government has no central database of trafficking
information; however, various government agencies and non-government
organizations document cases of trafficking. The Inter-Agency
Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) coordinates,
monitors, and oversees the implementation of Republic Act 9208, and
serves as an umbrella organization to coordinate anti-trafficking
efforts. The DOJ Secretary and the DSWD Secretary co-chair IACAT.
Other member agencies include the Department of Foreign Affairs,
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, National Commission
on the Role of Filipino Women, Bureau of Immigration, DOLE, NBI, and
PNP. Three NGOs representing women, children, and overseas Filipino
workers are also part of the IACAT.

27. The government has made progress in combating trafficking,
particularly in the areas of law enforcement coordination and victim
protection and assistance. There were seven convictions under the
2003 anti-trafficking in persons involving 20 female victims,
including minors. All of these victims were trafficked for
prostitution. DSWD provides basic social services such as
counseling, medical services, temporary shelter and repatriation for
minors rescued from prostitution. DSWD operates 42 temporary
shelters for victims throughout the country; of these, 13 centers
were for women, 13 for girls, and the remaining for men, boys, and
the elderly. Through August, the DSWD assisted 18 child victims of
prostitution, and 32 victims of child trafficking. Substitute
homes, or havens, served the needs of female and child victims of
trafficking and other forms of abuse. DSWD also referred cases to
accredited NGOs for children and accredited NGOs for women, which
provided temporary shelter and community services to women and
children in crisis, including victims of trafficking.

28. NGOs such as the Visayan Forum Foundation, Virlanie Foundation,
End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), Coalition Against
Trafficking of Women and Children, and the People's Recovery,
Empowerment, and Development Assistance (PREDA) Foundation Inc.
complement government efforts by offering counseling services,
training, housing, and provision of formal and non-formal education
to rescued child trafficking victims.

29. See Post's input to the annual Trafficking in Persons Report
(reftel b) for more information on child trafficking.

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/


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