Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October 2014, 16:03 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Philippines

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Philippines, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7494c15.html [accessed 22 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2001:11%3449
Minimum age for admission to work:153450
Age to which education is compulsory:113451
Free public education:Yes3452
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:112%3453
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:94%3454
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2001:87.6%3455
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:75%3456
Ratified Convention 138:6/4/983457
Ratified Convention 182:11/28/003458
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes3459

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2001, approximately 13.4 percent of boys and8.4 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in the Philippines. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (65.3 percent), followed by services (29.4 percent), manufacturing (4.2 percent) and other sectors (1.1 percent).3460 Children work on sugarcane plantations,3461 on banana, coconut, and rice plantations,3462 in pyrotechnics production, deep-sea fishing, mining, and quarrying.3463 Children living on the streets engage in informal labor activities such as scavenging or begging.3464 Children, primarily girls, are engaged in domestic service.3465 Children are also involved in the commercial sex industry; children are used in the production of pornography and are exploited by sex tourists.3466

Children are reportedly trafficked internally from rural areas to major cities, as well as abroad to work in prostitution, drug trafficking, domestic service and other areas of the informal sector.3467 Children are also involved in the production and trafficking of drugs within the country.3468 There are no reports of child soldiers in the government armed forces, but children under 18 are recruited into terrorist organizations, including the Abu Sayyaf Group and the New People's Army.3469

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law prohibits the employment of children under 15, except when working directly with a parent and when the work does not endanger the child's life, safety, health or morals, or does not interfere with schooling. The law requires that any child under 15 employed under these guidelines receive a special permit from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), but it does not define any absolute minimum ages for these children.3470 A child is permitted to work as an apprentice at 14.3471 The law sets limits on children's working hours; it prohibits night work for children under 16 years from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and forbids children 16 to 18 years from working after 10 p.m.3472 The law also requires formal administration of working children's income, initiates trust funds for working children, and guarantees their access to education and training. Penalties for violations include fines and prison terms up to 20 years.3473

Philippine law defines the worst forms of child labor in accordance with ILO Convention 182 and includes criteria for what is considered hazardous work to be prohibited as called for in the convention. Criteria for categorizing work as hazardous include work that degrades the worth and dignity of a child, work performed underground, and handling of explosives or pyrotechnics, among others.3474 The law also specifically prohibits the handling of dangerous machinery or heavy loads; work that entails exposure to extremes of cold, heat, noise, or pressure; work that exposes children to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; and work that is hazardous.3475 The law criminalizes trafficking of children and adults for exploitation, including trafficking for adoption, sex tourism, prostitution, pornography, the recruitment of children into armed conflict, or under the guise of arranged marriage.3476 The law establishes the penalty of life imprisonment for trafficking violations involving children and provides for confiscation of any proceeds deriving from trafficking crimes.3477 Those who use the services of trafficked persons are also subject to penalties of 15 years of imprisonment.3478 Government employees face additional penalties for breaking the law, which also mandates immediate deportation of foreign offenders following the completion of their prison sentence.3479 The law prohibits the involvement of minors in the manufacturing, delivery, or purchase of dangerous drugs.3480 Slavery and forced labor are prohibited.3481 The law prohibits child prostitution, including engaging in, profiting from, or soliciting prostitution from children.3482 The law also prohibits the use of children in production of pornographic materials.3483 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into military service is 18 or 17 for training purposes.3484

DOLE is responsible for enforcing child labor laws through the labor standards enforcement offices.3485 However, the U.S. Department of State reports that child labor enforcement is weak because of a lack of resources, inadequate judicial infrastructure, and low conviction rates. In addition, child labor laws are not enforced in the informal sector.3486 The National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration, and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group are tasked with counter-trafficking activities,3487 along with an inter-agency group on trafficking headed by the Department of Justice.3488 In August in Negros Occidental, a regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking was formed to address child labor and human trafficking in the region.3489

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

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 serve as the primary government policy instruments for the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs designed to prevent and eliminate child labor in the Philippines.3490 The National Plan of Action for Decent Work 2005-2007 prioritizes the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.3491 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.3492 In May, the Education Sub-Group of the National Child Labor Committee held its second National Consultative Conference on Child Labor and Education, where an assessment of gains under the Timebound program was presented and where a resolution was issued by all participants to support and contribute toward the Timebound program.3493

The Government of the Philippines, through DOLE, is participating in a USD 10.2 million USDOL-funded Timebound Program implemented by ILO-IPEC and World Vision to eliminate child labor in specified worst forms. The program targets children involved in commercial sexual exploitation, mining and quarrying, pyrotechnics, deep-sea fishing, domestic service, and work on commercial sugar cane farms and aims to withdraw 29,000 and prevent 22,500 children from exploitive work in these sectors.3494 USDOL has also funded two additional projects in support of the Timebound Program, including a USD 7 million ILOIPEC project that aims to withdraw 5,264 and prevent 4,250 children from becoming involved in armed conflict in 7 countries, including the Philippines,3495 as well as an additional interregional project allocating USD 500,000 in the Philippines to substantially reduce the engagement of children in the worst forms of child labor.3496 USDOL also supported a global project aimed at contributing to the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by raising awareness about the hazards of child labor and the benefits of education that ended in August 2006.3497

Additional government projects contributing to the goals of the Timebound Program include a 2-year project to combat child labor in tobacco production in Region I (Ilocos Region).3498 UNICEF also works actively with the government to promote children's rights, protect children from trafficking, and support educational improvements.3499 The Netherlands is supporting two projects in the Southeast Asia Region, including activities in the Philippines, to combat child domestic labor. The UN Trust Fund for Human Security is implementing a USD 1.9 million program in the Philippines and Thailand to empower returned child trafficking victims economically and socially.3500 The Government of the Philippines has also committed to monitor the child labor situation systematically on a nationwide basis. The Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) has conducted two stand-alone child labor surveys in 1995 and 2001. The NSO also gathers information on child labor by including children 5 years and above in its quarterly Labor Force Survey when measuring the economically active population in the Philippines.3501

Several governmental agencies in the Philippines have ongoing programs to address the needs of children vulnerable to exploitative labor.3502 DOLE continues to implement the Rescue the Child Workers Program to monitor suspected cases of child labor and intervene on behalf of children in affirmed cases.3503 In 2006, DOLE rescued 201 minors in 44 different operations from exploitive labor.3504 In addition, DOLE has a number of social welfare programs targeting working children, including the Working Youth Center and the Bureau of Women and Young Workers' Family Welfare Program.3505 The government has also begun institutionalizing a computer database on children identified as working that includes their needs and identifies appropriate assistance.3506 The Cebu Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and ILO, initiated an awards program for Child Labor Free and Child-Friendly Firms.3507 The Department of Social Welfare and Development is the lead government agency that provides support for victims of trafficking;3508 children in armed conflict; and children who have been exploited, abused, or rescued from living on the streets.3509 In February 2007, the Manila International Airport Authority established an interagency task force to combat trafficking at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport.3510

The Philippines Education for All National Plan of Action includes child laborers as beneficiaries of education services.3511 The Department of Education (DepEd) is implementing functional education and literacy programs that provide working children with basic education and skills training. DepEd's Bureau of Alternative Learning System (ALS)3512 promotes, improves and monitors alternative learning interventions for out-of-school youth and groups with special educational needs,3513 and has developed learning modules for parents of working children in areas with a high incidence of child labor.3514 In support of the Timebound Program, DepEd issued Bulletin No.4 Series 2003 instructing education officials at the national, regional, and local levels to intervene to reduce or eliminate child labor.3515


3449 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

3450 Government of the Philippines, Philippines Labour Code, (1993); available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/E98PHL01.htm. See also Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 7658 (November 9, 1993); available from http://www.pctc.gov.ph/initiatv/RA7658.htm. See also Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, (December 19, 2003).

3451 Government of the Philippines, Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, (1987), XIV Section 2(2).

3452 Ibid.

3453 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3454 Ibid.

3455 Ibid.

3456 Ibid.

3457 ILO ILOEX Database of International Labor Standards, Ratifications by Country, June 30, 2006, accessed June 30, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

3458 Ibid.

3459 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20061018_Implementationreport_eng.pdf.

3460 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3461 Terre des Hommes, Sweet Hazards: Child Labor on Sugarcane Plantations in the Philippines, Netherlands, June 2005, 8; available from http://www.terredeshommes.nl/filelibrary/Sweet_Hazards.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC, Safety and Health Fact Sheet: Hazardous Child Labour in Agriculture-Sugarcane, Geneva, March 2004; available from www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/download/factsheets/fs_sugarcane_0304.pdf

3462 National Child Labor Committee Official, Meeting with USDOL Official, May 21, 2007.

3463 See also Godelia E.S. Ricalde, Nonita Adan-Perez, and Mark Anthony P. Nucum, An Annotated Bibliography of Child Labor in the Philippines, 2002; available from www3.pids.gov.ph/dpnet/documents/annotated%20bibliography.pdf See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the TimeBound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines, project document, Geneva, September 25, 2002, 5.

3464 U.S. Department of State, "Philippines," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78788.htm. See also Consortium for Street Children, A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children, Bangkok, March 12-14, 2003, pp.18-20; available from http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/reports/southeastasia.pdf.

3465 Inc. Visayan Forum Foundation, Trafficked into Forced Labor: Selected Case Studies of Domestic Workers in the Philippines, Manila, 2006, Introductory notes; available from http://www.visayanforum.org/article.php?mode_id=718. See also Ayaka Matsuno and Jonathan Blagbrough, Child Domestic Labour in South-East and East Asia: Emerging Good Practices to Combat It, Bangkok, 2006, xv. See also Ricalde, An Annotated Bibliography of Child Labor in the Philippines. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 6c.

3466 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 5. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Philippines, September 22, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp. See also Arnie Trinidad, Child Pornography in the Philippines, Manila, 2005. See also ECPAT International, Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Philippines, Bangkok, 2006, 11-12; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/A4A_2005/PDF/EAP/Global_Monitoring_Report-PHILIPPINES.pdf.

3467 U.S. Department of State, "Philippines (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 6c. See also Visayan Forum Foundation, Trafficked into Forced Labor. See also UNICEF, Factsheet: Child Trafficking in the Philippines, [online] n.d. [cited October 3, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/ipulocaltrafficking.pdf#search=%22philippines%20child%20trafficking %22. See also ECPAT International, Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Philippines, 12.

3468 Emma Porio and Christine Crisol, The Use of Children in the Production, Sales and Trafficking of Drugs, Manila, 2004, pp. 1, 2. See also Magdalena Lepiten, Children's Involvement in the Production, Sale and Trafficking of Drugs in Cebu City: A Rapid Assessment, no. 22, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, February 2002.

3469 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 5. See also Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, Child Soldiers in Central and Western Mindanao: A Rapid Assessment, no. 21, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, February 2002, xv.

3470 Government of the Philippines, Philippines Labour Code, Article 139. See also Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 7658, Section 12. See also Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, Section 2.

3471 Government of the Philippines, Philippines Labour Code, Article 59.

3472 Government of the Philippines, Policy Instruction No. 23, (May 30, 1977), Section 1 a, b. See also Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, Section 3.

3473 Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, Sections 2-4, 6. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, February 27, 2004.

3474 Government of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, Section 3. See also ILO, C182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, [database online] 2002 [cited January 17, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/convdisp2.htm.

3475 Department of Labor and Employment, Hazardous Work and Activities to Persons Below 18 Years of Age, Department Order No. 4, (1999), Section 3. See also Ayaka Matsuno and Jonathan Blagbrough, Child Domestic Labour in South-East and East Asia: Emerging Good Practices to Combat It, Bangkok, 2006, p. 36.

3476 Government of the Philippines, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, Republic Act 9208, (2003); available from http://www.catw-ap.org/RA9208.htm.

3477 Ibid. Sections 6, 10, 14.

3478 Ibid., Section 5, 10.

3479 Ibid., Section 6, 10. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, March 1, 2005.

3480 Government of the Philippines, Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, Republic Act No. 9165, (2002), Article II, Section 5, 6.

3481 Government of the Philippines, Revised Penal Code, No. 3815, (December 8, 1930), Articles 272-274; available from http://www.chanrobles.com/revisedpenalcodeofthephilippinesbook1.htm.

3482 Government of the Philippines, Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, Republic Act No. 7610 (1992); available from http://www.bwyw.dole.gov.ph/RA7610.htm. Government of the Philippines, Revised Penal Code, Articles 202, 340-341.

3483 Government of the Philippines, Special Protection of Children Act, Article V. See also Government of the Philippines, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, Section 4.

3484 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Philippines " in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=875.

3485 U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, August 29, 2003.

3486 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, March 15, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – -Manila, reporting, August 23, 2004.

3487 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 5.

3488 U.S. Embassy – Manila official, email communication to USDOL official, August 14, 2006.

3489 The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, RCO Iloilo and NGOs Work to Activate Regional Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking, [online] August 31, 2006 [cited October 3, 2006]; available from http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:jQlGBHpW3wIJ:www.dfa.gov.ph/news/pr/pr2006/aug/pr734.pdf+philip pines+regional+inter-agency+council+against+trafficking&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=7.

3490 Council for the Welfare of Children, Philippine National Strategic Framework for Plan Development for Children, 2000-2025, Makati City, Philippines, 2000. See also Department of Labor and Employment, National Program Against Child Labor Framework 2000-2004. See also ILO--IPEC, Supporting the Timebound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines, technical progress report, September 2005, 30-31. See also World Vision, Combating Child Labor through Education in the Philippines: The ABK Initiative, technical progress report, March 2006.

3491 Department of Labor and Employment, Employers, Labor Agree to Promote Decent Work, [online] May 13, 2005 [cited September 21, 2006]; available from http://www.gov.ph/news/default.asp?i=9290. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Timebound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines, status report, Geneva, June 2005, 3.

3492 Republic of the Philippines, Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010, 2004, 113, 168-169.

3493 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the TimeBound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines, Geneva, September, 2006, 8-9. See also Department of Education, 2nd National Consultative Conference on Child Labor and Education, Memorandum No. 163, April 27, 2006.

3494 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Program, project document. See also World Vision Inc., The ABK Initiative: Combating Child Labor through Education in the Philippines, project document, Washington, 2003. See also Government of the Philippines, Memorandum Order No. 71, September 2, 2002.

3495 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Program, project document, Geneva, September 2003. See also U.S. Department of Labor, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Program, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary, Washington, D.C., 2007.

3496 Winrock International, Reducing Child Labor through Education, [online] n.d. [cited September 26, 2006]. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, United States Government Grants to Promote Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, [online] February 14, 2007 [cited April 3, 2007].

3497 ILO-IPEC, APEC Awareness Raising Campaign: Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Providing Educational Opportunities, technical progress report, Geneva, March 2005. See also ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2004, Geneva, October 2004; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/download/implementation_2004_en.pdf.

3498 ECLT Foundation, ECLT Foundation Program in the Philippines with the Department of Labor and Employment 2003-2005, [online] 2003 [cited April 3, 2007]; available from http://www.eclt.org/filestore/DOLEProgramme.pdf. See also ECLT Foundation, Philippines Project Update December 2004, [online] [cited April 3, 2007]; available from http://www.eclt.org/activities/projects/philippines.html.

3499 UNICEF, Revised Country Programme Document: Philippines, [online] [cited June 28, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/about/execboard/files/2004-PL9Rev1_Philippines.pdf. See also UNICEF Philippines, UNICEF Inks Agreement with Philippine Government to Reduce Disparities in the Well-Being of Children, [online] May 4, 2005 [cited September 21, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/philippines/archives/news/050503.html.

3500 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication USDOL Official, March 1, 2007.

3501 ILO--IPEC, Supporting the Timebound Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Republic of the Philippines, technical progress report, March 2004, 7. See also National Statistics Office, NSO and ILO-IPEC Set to Present Final Results of the Latest Survey on Children, [Press Release] October 10, 2002 [cited January 17, 2007]; available from http://www.census.gov.ph/data/pressrelease/2002/pr02177tx.html.

3502 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 6d.

3503 Department of Labor and Employment, Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM), [online] n.d. [cited October 3, 2006]; available from http://www.bwyw.dole.gov.ph/SBM.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting March 15, 2006.

3504 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 6d.

3505 U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting August 29, 2003.

3506 Ibid.

3507 Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., Search for CCCI's Child Friendly Firm is On, [Press Release] October 8, 2006 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.cebubusinesswebportal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=63&Itemid=129.

3508 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Philippines," Section 5.

3509 U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting August 29, 2003. See also Department of Social Welfare and Development, Retained Programs/Services for Children [online] [cited September 22, 2006]; available from http://www.dswd.gov.ph/ProgProj.php?id=32.

3510 U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, March 12, 2007.

3511 Government of the Philippines, National Action Plan to Achieve Education for All by Year 2015, 2005, p.51; available from http://www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/efa/EFA_Plans/Phil_EFA2015_Final_Plan.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC, Time-Bound Program to Combat Child Labor, technical progress report September 2006, p. 2.

3512 Government of the Philippines, Renaming the Bureau of Nonformal Education to Bureau of Alternative Learning System, Executive Order No. 356, (September 13, 2004).

3513 Government of the Philippines, National Action Plan to Achieve Education for All by Year 2015, p. 26. See also U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting August 29, 2003.

3514 U.S. Embassy – Manila, reporting, March 1, 2005.

3515 Department of Education, DepED Bulletin No. 4 S. 2003, Philippines Timebound Program (PTBP) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL), (2003).

Search Refworld

Countries