Field test of the training manual on child labour, its laws, policies and programmes in the Philippines

The first Field Test of the Training Manual is part of the technical assistance extended by ILO to help address the capacity-building needs of the Ministry of Labor and Employment in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MOLE-BARMM). The activity is designed to train MOLE’s labor inspectors and key technical staff to gain deeper technical understanding of child labour and to enable the ministry to better respond and address child labour issues in BARMM..

The training is divided into four Sessions:

  • Session 1: Understanding Child Work and Child Labour
  • Session 2: International Conventions on Child Labour
  • Session 3: Philippine Laws and Regulations on Child Labour
  • Session 4: Challenges and Strategies in Addressing Child Labour

Session 1 distinguishes child work from child labor where the former refers to permitted work done by children who are of the age prescribed by law; is not harmful to children’s health and development; does not impede children’s schooling; is not classified as hazardous for children; and does not exceed the allowable hours of work. Child labor, on the other hand, refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or interferes with their schooling. It also looks into the prevalence of child labor globally and locally. Child labor is prevalent globally with 160 million children in child labour, or 1 in 10 children worldwide. Nearly half of all those in child labour – 79 million children in absolute terms – are in hazardous work directly endangering their health, safety and moral development.  Child labour is more prevalent in boys than in girls with 97 million boys and 63 million girls in child labour. Nearly 87 million children are in child labor in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is more than in the rest of the world combined.

To help in deepening the understanding of child labor, Session 1 looks into the causes of child labor, which include poverty, socio-cultural issues, lack of access to quality education, and demand for child labor. It also discusses the negative consequences of child labor on children’s health, education, and skills acquisition, on their families, and on the economy.

Day 1 Group work
MOLE Labour Inspectors and Senior Technical Officers draw a picture of children working in agricultural sector and what they dream of instead of doing hazardous work in farms. 

Session 2 is an introduction to the relevant international laws on child labor. It begins with an overview of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the most widely ratified international treaty on human rights. The UNCRC recognizes that children are holders of rights, namely, the right to survival, the right to development, the right to protection, and the right to participation. These rights are grounded on the four fundamental principles of the UNCRC which are: (1) non-discrimination, (2) best interests of the child, (3) maximum survival and development, and (4) right of children to express their views in accordance with their evolving capacities.

The Session then introduces the ILO and how it works. The ILO functions mainly through its three main bodies, the International Labour Conference, the Governing Body, and the International Labour Office. The ILO’s tri-partite constituency (governments, employers, and workers) draws up international labor standards in the form of Conventions (or Protocols), which are legally binding international treaties that may be ratified by member states, or Recommendations, which serve as non-binding guidelines. International labor standards are backed by a supervisory system to ensure that countries implement the conventions they ratify.

The three main instruments of the ILO that address child labor are the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), the Minimum Age Convention (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182). Convention No. 29 defines forced labor as all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. Convention No. 138 sets the general minimum age at 15 years old, the minimum age for light work at 13 years old, and the minimum age for hazardous work at 18 years old. Convention No. 182 identifies four categories of the worst forms of child labor, all of which should be eliminated as a matter of urgency. These are:  
  • all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  • work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children
Day 2 Group work
MOLE Labour Inspectors and Senior Technical Officers matched definitions of technical terms and relevant laws on chld labour and trafficking. 

Session 3 is an overview of Philippine laws and regulations on child labor. Republic Act No. 9231, or An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, is the primary national legislation that applies the fundamental international labors standards on children. It sets the minimum age for work or employment at 15 years; it seeks to eliminate the worst forms of child labor; it aims to provide stronger protection to working children; and it mandates the closure of establishments that and penalizes persons who violate its provisions.

DOLE Department Order No. 149-16, (February 15, 2016), or the Guidelines in Assessing and Determining Hazardous Work in the Employment of Persons below 18 Years of Age, provides further details on hazardous work for the guidance of labor laws compliance officers. It enumerates what type of work and activities, listed by industrial and occupational classifications, are considered hazardous to children.

Republic Act No. 9208, as amended, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, defines trafficking in persons as requiring the triple elements of acts, means, and exploitative purpose.  It involves the act or method of engaging in the trade of people, through means that undermine consent (such as threat, force, other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person), for the purpose of exploiting people.

Republic Act No, 9208, as amended, considers the worst forms of child labor as a form of Acts of Trafficking in Persons for the purpose of exploitation of children. It punishes such acts with life imprisonment.

Session 3 also includes an overview of the step-by-step procedures in the conduct of inspection, rescue, and enforcement proceedings as laid out in the DOLE Department Circular No. 002, series of 2010, pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations.

Session 4 reviews the challenges in addressing child labor and surveys good practices in finding solutions to the problem. The barriers to addressing child labor, especially eliminating the worst forms, are manifold.  A major aspect is the fundamental challenge of addressing the causes of child labor, some of which have been discussed in Session 1. Other common obstacles are lack of legislation, lack of political will, lack of resources, and practical problems arising from the informal economy.

Several good practices have made substantial inroads towards eliminating the worst forms of child labor as an urgent concern and progressively realizing the goal of ending all other forms of child labor. Highlighted are good practices on creating a culture of prevention, organizing child labor monitoring systems, sensitizing teachers to the problem of child labor and the importance of education, establishing and maintaining multi-purpose centers, economic alternatives to families , using OSH as a strategy, adopting a case management protocol, and reducing child labor in agriculture through good agricultural practices.

The content of the training manual was developed with the help of Attorney Patricia Nina Arroyo and with copy-edits done by Ms. Ma Angelica Gonzalez. The training proper was facilitated by Attorney Mohammad Muktadir Estrella.

 Group Picture of Onsite Participants at MOLE Conference Center

 Group Picture of Online Participants from MOLE Field Offices

 Group Picture of Online Participants from MOLE Field Offices