One of five children in Bukidnon is a child laborer

VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/18 September) — One of five children between the ages five and 14 or 67,000 children in Bukidnon are considered by the International Labor Organization as child laborers, according to Jesus Macasil, a Manila-based ILO senior programme officer.

He said 9.3 percent of the figure or about 6,231 children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, based on figures cited by Unicef’s Country Program for Children (CPC 6) indicators report in 2007.

Macasil presided over discussions in Bukidnon from September 14 to 16 on the inclusion of Bukidnon in ILO’s “International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).

Bukidnon is among four provinces in the country where the International Labor Organization (ILO) is setting up a continuing program to look into the plight of thousands of child laborers, according to the ILO website.

Aside from Bukidnon, the ILO is implementing the second phase of the same program in Northern Samar, Masbate and Quezon.

The four provinces were chosen based on the 2001 child labor survey and other data like dropout rate, poverty incidence, number of poor families and results of a survey on population and family income, Macasil said in a report posted in the ILO website.

Philippine Labor laws define child labor as existent when work burdens the child or the work is too heavy for child’s age and capabilities. Also, it is child labor when a child works supervised by abusive adults. Other criteria includes very long hours of work, work places that pose hazards to child’s health and life, child subjected to psychological, verbal, physical, and or sexual abuse

It is also child labor when a child is forced to work.

Macasil also cited poverty and education figures as among those used in determining the province’s inclusion to the project.

He told MindaNews that Bukidnon’s predominantly agricultural economy makes it susceptible to child labor employment.

Macasil was in town to help organize the Bukidnon Child Labor Committee, a component of the Bukidnon Child Welfare Council.

He said it will be a multi-government and multi-sectoral body as a mechanism of support for the advocacy against child labor. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)