What is Child Labor? Child Labor is defined as a work for children that harms them or exploits them in some way, either physically, emotionally or morally. This definition is not the only definition there is for child labor since varying definitions exists which are used by the international organizations, local government units, non – governmental organization and other concern groups. Even other famous/remarkable people such as writers, public speakers, politicians etc. have different definitions for child labor. That’s why it is said that there is no universally accepted definition for child labor (Dean, 2004) According to Del Rosario and Bonga (2000), the source of confusions/complication in defining child labor comes from the term of “child” and “work”. With regards to the term of child, different countries have different definitions of child on the basis of age or other criteria’s while other points out that the maturity of a certain child can never be determined by calendar of age (Dean, 2004). On the other hand, work comes in different forms. Some says that it is any form of compensated activity while others points out that work may not be compensated at all. And there is still a debate whether employment of a child in his/her own household is a child labor. (p. 214). Considerable differences exist between the many kinds of work children do. Some are difficult and demanding, others are more hazardous and even morally reprehensible. Children carry out a very wide range of tasks and activities when they work (ILO, 2007).

History of Child Labor Child Labor existed even before agricultural societies and yet, it remains to be a serious problem today. Prominence and opposition of child labor can be dated back in 18th century, during the rise of industrial revolution and capitalism in Great Britain. As neighboring countries began to be industrialized as well during the 19th century, cases of child labor increases that led it to become a big scandal. Social reformers then began to condemn child labor since it detrimental effect only on children’s health. In Great Britain, the first ever legislation on child labor was passed in 1802 but wasn’t enforced while cases in New York worsened in 1850. In 1870, the first ever census reported 750,000 cases of child labor who were 15 years old and under. What is alarming in this report is that child workers working for their family farms and business are not yet included in this report (Shahrokhi, 1996). Myths on Child Labor According to UNICEF (1997), there are four myths that surround the issue of child labor and these are the ff: 1. Child Labor is only a problem of developing countries found in the region of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This may be expected due to the prevailing economic conditions of these countries, still pockets of child labor can be found in highly industrialized countries such as US etc.
2. Child Labor will never be eliminated until poverty disappears. UNICEF points out

that child labor should be eliminated interdependently of poverty. Even the poorest countries should do their best so as to decrease the number of child labor cases.

3. Child laborers only work on export industries. Only a small portion of child labor cases work in export industries, only about 9%. Most child workers can be found in the informal sectors of society, out in the streets, work in agriculture or hidden in every home – far form the eyes of labor inspectors.
4. The only way to eliminate child labor is for the government and consumers to pose

sanctions and boycotts. This will not really help at all and will just make the problem worst. Likewise, it doesn’t give a huge impact since portions of child labor cases are found in that sector. A comprehensive strategy that supports and develops local initiatives and provides alternatives is the only proper seen by UNICEF should be done in order to combat child labor. How many are Child Laborers? In 2000, ILO estimates that there are 246 million child workers age 5-17 world wide. In 2004 however, it dropped by 11 percent to only 218 million. On the other hand, UNICEF State of the World Report (1997) says that the statistics on child labor is elusive since cases of child labor are said to be invisible that even countries are having a hard time to figure the number of child labor cases. Although the exact number is unknown, it is sure to run in hundred of millions. II. INTERNATIONAL ACTION: ENDING CHILD LABOR

a. International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Organization is the specialized agency of United Nations that deals with labor issues. It was founded in 1919, through the negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I. However, at the end of World War II, it

became a member of UN system after the demise of the League of Nations. Likewise, it hosts the International Labor Conference annually every June in Geneva, Switzerland which serves to be its headquarters. Every member states during the conference are represented by four delegates: two government employees delegate, an employer delegate and a worker delegate. Juan Somavio is said to be the current Director-General of ILO and he’s been in the office since March 4, 1999. In order to combat child labor, it launched the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) in 1992. This program aims towards the progressive elimination of child labor by strengthening the capacities of every member states to address child labor problems, and by creating worldwide movement to combat it. (ILO, 2007) The main principal function of the ILO is the setting of labor standards through adoption of convention by member states through ratification. Ratifying of convention is voluntary though there are conventions which are said to be fundamental which obliges every member states to follow, respect and promote its principle even without the process of ratification under the ILO declaration. (ILO, 2007) IN 2006, ILO is said to have 187 conventions all in all which all deals to different labor issues. These 187 conventions can be classified into 22 subjects in which Elimination of Child Labour and Protection of Children and Young Persons is included. Out of 187 conventions, there are only 15 conventions which deal with child labor cases which are the ff:

1. C5 Minimum Age (Industry) Convention, 1919 2. C6 Night Work of the Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1921 3. C10 Minimum Age (Agriculture) Convention, 1921

4. C15 (Shelved) Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stokers) Convention, 1921 5. C33 Minimum Age (Non Industrial Employment) Convention, 1932 6. C59 Minimum Age (industry) Convention (Revised), 1937 7. C60 (Shelved) Minimum Age (Non – Industrial Employment) Convention (Revised), 1937 8. C77 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1946 9. C78 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Convention 1946 10. C79 Night Work of Young Persons (Non -Industrial) Convention (Revised), 1948 11. C90 Night Work of Young Persons (industry) Convention (Revised), 1948 12. C123 Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 13. C124 Medical Examinations of Young Persons (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 14. C138 Minimum Age Convention * 15. C182 Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 *

These conventions can be classified into 4 categories. And each category, especially the first three can be classified into sub categories which depend on the sectors of which child labor exists. First is the convention that deals with the minimum age of child workers which has the most number of conventions, eight in all due to the sensitivity of the issue. Also, take note that the C15 was shelved since it was seen as an outdated instrument and the C138 as a fundamental convention. Second is the convention that deals with the night work of child laborers which has 3 conventions. Third is the convention on the medical examinations of young persons which also has 3 conventions. And lastly, the convention that deals with the worst forms of child labor. Though it has one convention under this category, this convention is seen as a fundamental convention.

b. Convention on the Rights of Child The Convention on the Rights of the Child is said to be the perfect symbol of the world community recognizing that rights of the child. It an international convention on which is said to be the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights —civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The key accomplishment of these conventions was that it gave a general definition of what a child is and that is any person under the age of 18. The United Nations General Assembly agrees to adopt the convention into international law on Nov. 20, 1989, after 20 countries have ratified it. As of December 2005, nearly all States are parties. Only Somalia and United States have not yet ratified this convention but have signed it, indicating their support (UNICEF, 2007). Article 32 of the convention in relation to child labor states that: "States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development." ...States Parties shall in particular (a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment. (b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment. (c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article. (UNHCHR, 2003) The Convention has covered all the rights there is for children anywhere in the world and never forgot to dedicate a portion so as to end economic exploitation or more known as child labor.


CHILD LABOR: PHILIPPINE SCENARIO a. Conventions Ratified in the Philippines: Out of the 16 Conventions on ILO has to address issues on Child Labor, only 4

conventions were ratified in the Philippines:
1. ILO Convention No. 59 Minimum age for admission of children to industrial

employment, 1937 (Revised). Status: Denounced This was ratified in May 1960 which sets the minimum age for employment in industry at 15 but allows children under 15 to be employed in undertaking where only family members are employed, but only if such work is free from risk to the life, health or morals of children. (Del Rosario, , 2000)

This convention was denounced due to its revision into the form of Convention 138. 2. ILO Convention No. 77 Medical Examination for fitness for employment in Industry of Children and Young Persons. Status: Active Ratified in November 16, 1960, Children less than 18 years of age shall not be admitted to employment unless they have been found fit for the work for which they are to be employed by a thorough medical examination (ILO, 2007).

3. ILO Convention No. 138 Minimum age for admission to employment. Status: Active Ratified in June 4, 1988, it focuses on setting a standard minimum age employment which covers all economic sectors and all employment or work, whether or not such are performed under a contract of employment (ILO, 2007). This was the revised form of Convention No. 59.

4. ILO Convention No. 90 Night Work of Young Persons employed in Industry. Status: Active Ratified in December 29, 1953, this convention disallows children below 18 years of age to be employed during the night in any public or private industrial undertaking or in any branch thereof, except as provided for. (ILO, 2007)

5. ILO Convention No. 182 Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999. Status: Active Ratified in November 28, 2000, this convention states that the governments should direct their attention, policies and budgets to the immediate elimination of grave forms of child labor such as slavery, prostitution, illegal activities etc., in addition to the gradual elimination of all forms of child labor (Boeur & Homes, 2005) 6. UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UN CRC). Status: Active.

Ratified in January 6, 1990, this convention articulates the right of children to be protected from work that threatens their health, education or development, and the State’s obligation to set minimum ages for employment and to regulate working conditions (ILO, 2007
b. Response to International Law 1. National Legislation

According to Del Rosario (2000), a number of legislation, executive orders and attendant policy guidelines have been formulated with the intention of the ff:

Providing national laws in compliance with existing international covenants on child labor.

Providing legal sanctions against the abuse, exploitation and violation of the rights of minors. (p )

a. The Philippine Constitution (1987)

According to the Article XV, Sec. 3 of the 1987 Constitution, “The States shall defend the rights of the children to assistance including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development” (Del Rosario, , 2000). b. The Labor Code of the Philippines (Presidential Decree No. 442)

Enacted in May, 1974, this P.D. states that “Allows employment of children below 16 years of age only if they perform light work, which is not harmful to their safety, health or normal development, and which is not prejudicial to their studies. Strict guidelines were laid down on their rates of pay, hours of work and other conditions of employment. An employment permit also has to be secured from the Department of Labor and Employment” (ILO, 2007). c. Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) Enacted in June 17, 1992, this law “provides protection of children against abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and employment in illicit activities” (ILO, 2007). d. Republic Act No. 7658 Enacted in May 12, 1994, this law “prohibits the employment of children below 15 years of age in public and private undertakings, except when a child works directly under the sole responsibility of his or her parents or legal guardian, and where only the members of the employer’s family are employed” (ILO, 2007). e. Executive Order No. 275 (Signed by President Fidel V. Ramos) Enacted in September 14, 1995, this law “created a special committee for the special protection of children from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty,

exploitation, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development” (ILO, 2007). f. Memorandum Order No. 71 (Signed by President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo) Enacted in September 2, 2002, this law “directs the Labor Secretary to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor through the TBP in the spirit of ILO Convention No. 182 (ILO, 2007). g. Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 4 Enacted in September 21, 1999, DOLE should provide a list of prohibited work and activities to persons below 18 years of age, consistent with ILO Convention No. 182 (ILO, 2007). h. Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act) Enacted in May 26, 2003, this law “Institutes policies to eliminate trafficking in persons, especially women and children, establishing the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons.

2. NGO Intervention

According to ILO (2007), there are 35 NGO’s working hand-in-hand with ILO as of August 29, 2006. The following are some of the NGOs:
a. Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW)-DOLE

Target Sector: Sugarcane, pyrotechnics, CSEC, deep sea fishing Target Area: Negros Occidental and Iloilo b. Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc Target Sector: Child domestic work Target Area: Metro Manila, Davao, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Cebu c. Kamalayan Development Foundation (KDF) Target Sector: Sugarcane Target Area: Davao d. Association for the Welfare of Filipino Children, Inc. (AWFCI) Target Sector: Deep sea fishing Target Area: Oriental Negros e. Pook Mirasol Center for Appropriate Technology (POMCAT) Target Sector: Mining Target Area: Camarines Norte IV. EVALUATION In 2001, ILO estimated 246 million cases of child labor with child workers ages 15-17 throughout the globe. However, it decreased into 218 million or roughly 11 percent in 2004. This

only means that the international action done world wide was able to fight child labor and has been very effective in its course of actions. In the Philippines, still based on ILO statistics, there was a total of 24.9 million Filipino child laborers ages 15-17 years recorded as of October 2001 compared to the 22.4 million child workers recorded in 1995. There has been an increase of 11.2 percent in this time line from 1995 to 2001. This means that the measures done in the Philippines were not effective enough in at least decreasing the number of child labor cases in the country. However, as you can see, we cannot compare the global statistics from the Philippine statistics since the time lines of the two statistics don't fit each other having the global statistics from 2000 to 2004 while the Philippine statistics started from 1995 to 2001. The reason behind the inconsistency of the time line was that NSO has failed to release it National Statistics last 2004.With this, the question “‘is the Philippines reactive to international laws or not?'” arises. Based on the number of NGOs formed, which is 35 in total, plus the number of various amendments and/or changes in the national legislation; we can therefore conclude that the Philippines is NOT reactive only to international laws. The Philippines makes it own measures and actions on how to fight or diminish child labor cases in the country. It does not simply take international laws and put it into action; rather, it find ways to improve those laws in order to incorporate it in the Philippine setting still in accordance with our international relations. If the Philippines ensures into putting in action the programs and projects of the government, NGOs and other interest groups to eliminate child labor; then, 'Why does the national statistics showed a poor performance?' This is where we have to assess the programs of the national government to combat child labor. And as we do, the following issues arise:

(1) Conflicting Laws The laws that we have in the Philippines concerning child labor conflict each other. There are laws that have a broad scope of the topic while there are laws that are too limited. Del Rosario (1987) pointed this out. ...On the one hand, the labor Code (Article 139a) says that, no child below 15 shall be employed but the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Title VI, Article 107) says that children below 16 may be employed without specifying exactly how young they can be employed. Then article 139 of the Labor Code allows employment below 15, and this is contradicted by its implementing Rule IV, Section 11a which pegs the apprenticeship age at 15. Lastly, Article 140 of the Labor Code, states that no employer shall discriminate against any person in respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his age and Article 111 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code states that working children shall have the same freedom as adults to join the collective bargaining union of their own choosing in accordance with existing laws, which points to a tacit acceptance of child labor (Del Rosario 1987).

(2) Weakness of Enforcement Mechanisms It is a common major problem to an effective protection against child labor is the weakness of enforcement mechanisms in the country. It is either there is a problem with the side of the employers, the labor inspectors or the child workers themselves. According to the Report VI of the 86th Session of the International Labor Conference (1996): ... registers or equivalent documentation must be kept by employers at their workplace and made available for labor inspectors...It seems safe to conclude that the general trend is to conform with Convention No. 138, which requires registers and other documents concerning workers under age 18 as one measure to facilitate enforcement of child labor legislation...In most countries the law requires a work permit or authorization for certain activities, especially in entertainment, the film industry and television broadcasting...The laws in almost all countries require

that children and young workers be medically examined before being employed to determine their fitness for work (ILO, 1996, pp. 82-83).

But it seems that these laws and codes are not effectively enforced since there are employers who don't process registers or documentations of their workers for the reason that the works done may be illegal or they don't want their workers to have the proper benefits every member of the labor force must get. There are also cases when the labor inspectors caused the problem. The reason behind this is the difficulties encountered by labor inspectors such as low salaries, lack of training to determine who practices child labor and lack of sufficient staff among others. The child workers also contribute to this at the instance when they falsify documents in order to enter the labor force to earn money for their families.

(3) Inadequacy of Penalties Convention No. 138 requires governments to take all necessary measures, including the provision of penalties, to ensure effective enforcement; thus, penalties are very essential in enforcing our laws. Penalties can vary from fines, imprisonment, revoking of license and finally closure of the establishment. But there are many instances when these penalties do not fit the violations being done. (4) Lack of Information and Comprehensive Government Program Del Rosario also pointed out the lack of information and the lack of comprehensive program by the government for the elimination of child labor.

...As of 1986, no major, much less, comprehensive government program for tackling the problems of child labor existed. This may be attributed to a lack/inadequacy of information on child labor incidence and nature, for one. For another, it may be a manifestation of lack of commitment on the part of public authorities possibly due to a lack of critical awareness of the gravity of child labor as the most systematic form of child abuse. Economic development policies, being export-oriented as they are, geared towards cheap labor, and given so many government incentives, may be a reason behind this lack of critical awareness which would tend to run counter to such a policy. Overall industrial policies do not generate employment and conflict with Filipino entrepreneurs' efforts at employment generation by discouraging industrial self-reliance and encouraging import liberalization and dependence on foreign control of the economy (Del Rosario, 1987, pp. 121-123).

Labor laws that are supposed to be relevant in child labor cases are unknown not only to the employers, the labor inspectors, the parents and the child worker but also to the majority of the people. This ignorance of the law is very prevalent in the country.

(5) Overly Sympathetic Attitude of Law Enforcers Law enforcers tend to be overly sympathetic towards the families of the child workers. In most cases, employment of children is viewed by law enforcement agencies as a matter of necessity and survival, interference with which, could be disastrous to the child's economic condition. Given the existing economic condition prevailing, law enforcement agencies appear more inclined to tolerate the employment of children in carnivals, street trades, docks and piers, factories and fishing boats rather than deprive them of livelihood and a means of sustenance.

The sympathetic attitude of law enforcement agencies, in a way, reflects the gradualist approach taken by the government in

addressing the problem of child labor. The approach is premised on the fact that child labor cannot be totally eliminated as long as wide spread poverty exists. In general, drastic action is not taken against employers of child workers, except where children's rights are grossly violated... (ILS, 1994, p.76) This was also tackled in the Report VI of the 86th Session of the International Labor Conference (1996): Parents, often illiterate, attach greater economic value to child work than to schooling. And labor inspectors often hesitate to enforce law and impose sanctions because they know that the families depend on the earnings of their children or believe that child labor makes a substantial contribution to the economy of the country (ILO, 1996. p. 90).

(6) Issue of Mobility The issue of mobility is another problem in the awareness of child labor. This is commonly seen on provinces, especially in rural and agricultural areas where most of child workers come from and being trafficked in urban zones. ...lack of transportation to reach and inspect establishments outside cities, which makes it virtually impossible to monitor agricultural areas—still the largest single sector in which children work and one in which major hazards and bonded labor are common (ILO, 1996, p.92).

(7) Lack of Focus on the Needs of Child Workers There were not enough existing programs that have a complete focus in the cases of child labor. By the time children in child labor started to become a major concern again (since most programs then were biased in favor of street children), lessons learned from previous programs on street children advocacy were being raised vis a vis advocacy for child workers. In reaction to the existing programs at the time, the

BWYW bewailed that no project was directed to the needs of child workers at the enterprise or work site level, and that it was only in the muru-ami fishing operations where their problems were addressed by the government (BWYW 1987).

V. RECOMMENDATION According to the Terminal Review of the BGCACL (Breaking Ground for Community Action on Child Labor) (Del Rosario, 2000, p.206), the following recommendations are suggested: (1) Laws alone do not change attitudes; (2) Community-based action is the ultimate key to a long term, sustained effort to protect child laborers; (3) A multi-sectoral collaborative action involving government agencies, non-government organizations and the private sector has proved effective in molding opinions, coordinating actions, mobilizing resources and catalyzing key policy changes; (4) Research on child labor an indispensable tool for action; (5) Decentralization is necessary to reach children's communities of work; (6) There is an urgent need to develop a pro-active stance to meet the growing requirements of working children for substantive legal protection; (7) Advocacy should permeate all lines of action for child laborers. Laws alone cannot eliminate child labor or any social problem in that sense. Effective and efficient enforcement is needed in order to eliminate child labor. And effective and efficient enforcement needs adequate penalties to support. This can be achieve if it can be initiated in more smaller units of society rather than in the government since government cannot do it all

alone. That is the reason why we NGOs and other interest groups that help in eliminating or at the least, decreasing child labor cases in the country. But before that, we must first know about the proper way in handling this issue. Research is a very effective way of starting the course of action needed. And since the government does not only hold a single problem in the society, it is beneficial if in every community there will be measures and actions to be done. The will to protect the children is a strong instrument to fight child labor. Initiative is very essential when we want to make a change. It is suggested that every Filipino, every citizen of the world must contribute to the common advocacy of eliminating child labor. The Philippines is making its best to do what is needed to do. Section 142 of the ILO/Japan Asian Regional Meeting on Monitoring Child labor at the Workplace entitled The Proceedings said that: Mr. Jose M. Espanol, Jr. (Philippines) said that the campaign against child labor in his country involved a concerted effort from the Government, trade unions, employers' groups, nongovernmental organizations and international welfare and social development institutions. Communities, parents and children themselves were active participants (ILO/Japan, 2001, p.28).

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