Jinggoy: Shut down companies engaged in child labor

SENATE President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately shut down companies and factories engaged in child labor and not complying with the existing labor regulations.

Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said DOLE and PNP should step up drive against child labor which he described as “modern day slavery practice.”

Estrada issued the statement in reaction to the National Statistics Office (NSO) survey showing that 5.59 million children aged 5 to 17, were already working.The figure represents 18.9% of the 29.019 million Filipino children under the same age bracket. Also from this number, 2.993 million were reported to be exposed to hazardous labor.

The lawmaker cited Republic Act 9231 (An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor) which prohibits employment of children below 15 years old, except under some cases. The same measure also states that a child 15 years old but below 18 years old shall not be allowed to work for more than 8 hours per day and in no case beyond 40 hours per week.

Moreover, DOLE Department Order 04-1999 prohibits employment of workers below 18 years old under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night.

Estrada noted that child labor is also harmful to the children’s health especially if exposed to hazardous chemicals in the factories.

He maintained that the younger population must cultivate learning in educational institutions and not in unsafe worksites. “Our children must be encouraged to go to school to learn and become globally competitive individuals as they are the future leaders of our country.”

“High incidence of child labor illustrates the hard economic circumstances of the Filipino families, that even children at an early age are forced to finance their personal needs, source their own school allowance and assist their parents in providing the family’s needs,”  Estrada laments.

“Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals take advantage of this situation – the innocence of the child on human and labor rights, and cheap labor costs – by employing kids as laborers. We must take serious, hard-line stance against child labor and apprehend offenders at once,” the senator concluded.

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