Message of Sec. Taguiwalo for the launch of the Convergence Projects to Combat Child Labor

January 12, 2017

A pleasant day to my fellow public servants, partner-advocates from the civil society organizations and international development partners, members of the academe, and to all champions of the children sector!

Today, we begin the year 2017 in the most significant way possible as we launch the convergence projects to combat the ever persistent problem of child labor in the Philippines.

The Philippines has long been trying to address child labor, a social malaise that stems from the vicious cycle of poverty.

Child labor is a complex social concern which necessitates a comprehensive and sustainable response from the Government, Non-Government Organizations, Academe, Civil Society Organizations, and the public as well.

There are already ongoing efforts to help parents to secure gainful and sustainable employment, and these efforts should be complemented with programs to help their children. Because of widespread and deep-seated poverty in the Philippines, so many children are forced to forego their childhood and become workers in factories, mines, plantations so they can earn pittance wages they can give to their parents. We should all work together to bring an end to child labor and help children recover their childhood.

According to a 2011 Survey on Children by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there were 2.1 million child-laborers in the country.

And in the 2015 study of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education Research (EILER), 22.5 percent of households have child workers, while the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines mentioned that the country employs 5.5 million child-laborers.

These numbers show that the child labor problem is prevalent in our country. We must unite with the national government and other concerned agencies in their efforts to respond directly to poverty, too, must provide an appropriate intervention to put a stop to this social ill of making children work for the family’s needs.

These numbers prove that more should still be done in the campaign against child labor. We, therefore, should have a better response than what we had before.

We must immediately and urgently rally to respond to this concern because as the problem is unabated, children continue to be violated a thousand fold, especially those child laborers engaged in backbreaking and hazardous work.

We, at the DSWD, will implement the Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions, or what we call SHIELD. This is the first comprehensive project of DSWD on child labor.

Through the SHIELD, we envisioned for the efforts against child labor to strengthen all the way down to the community level.

In the meantime, because there are 4.4 million poor families under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Department also developed the Module on Child Labor for the Family Development Sessions. We will focus on educating poor families about the long term effects of allowing their children to work at an early age.

While we have these initiatives, the very essence of this activity is CONVERGENCE. True enough, there is, indeed, a need for us to converge our actions, systems, and processes if we want a holistic response that will stand the test of time. And the very fact that we are all here today is a step in the right direction.

The laws that criminalize child labor should be enforced more stringently. We need to rescue children who have become child laborers and help them and their parents build more stable, not to mention safer lives. The children belong in school – we must help them be children and enjoy the rights that all children should enjoy in a just and compassionate society.

Allow me, then, in closing to congratulate everyone for this noble effort to extend the much needed “maagap, mapagkalinga, kumpleto at pangmatagalang serbisyo para sa ating mga kabataan.” Let us fight child labor and help our people poverty on all levels so they themselves can help their own children. Let’s unite for a more humane and compassionate society that deserves the children born to it.

Thank you very much and good day to everyone!