The Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera will profile 3,000 child workers across the region to push for more inclusive and preventive interventions in stopping child labor.

DOLE-Cordillera Director Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman said child laborers who will be profiled in Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Baguio City will be referred to appropriate agencies which will give them and their families assistance.

The DOLE launched in 2018 a nationwide profiling of child laborers and their families to better assess their needs so that appropriate interventions could be given.

“Profiling of child laborers is our strategic way of withdrawing children from child labor. Regional and provincial field offices will assess their needs and refer them and their families to appropriate agencies and organizations for the provision of necessary assistance to remove them from child labor,” Guzman added.

He also said parents of child laborers received assistance that would enable their families start their livelihood as a preventive measure against child labor.

The 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan of President Rodrigo Duterte aims to reduce cases of child labor by 30 percent or 630,000 child laborers by 2022.

Based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of working children considered engaged in child labor as defined by Republic Act 9231 or Special Protection of the Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act was estimated at 2.1 million or 63.3 percent of the 3.3 million children five to 17 years old.

More than half of these children (58.3 percent) belonged to 15 to 17 years old age group who were part of the labor force population. More than half of the working children engaged in child labor (58.4 percent) were in the agriculture sector.

Hazardous child labor cases were estimated at two million or 61.9 percent of the working children.

Child labor refers to work situations where children are compelled to work on a regular basis to earn a living for themselves and their families and, as a result, are disadvantaged educationally and socially; where children work in conditions that are exploitative and damaging to their health and to their physical and mental development; where children are separated from their families often deprived of educational and training opportunities; and where children are forced to lead prematurely adult lives.

Hazardous work exposes children to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces; work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads; work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children to hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging to their health; work under particularly difficult conditions such work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.

END/Patrick T Rillorta