Factories hiring child workers should be penalized-Lacson

May 1, 2010

Government should enforce stricter penalties against companies which are still using underaged Filipino children to work in sweatshops in the Philippines. This, says Liberal Party senatorial candidate Atty. Alex ‘Pinoy’ Lacson, will probably help stem the rise of the number of child laborers in the country.

Liberal Party senatorial bet Atty. Alex `Pinoy’ Lacson said more than 10 million Filipino families have at least four to eight children working in various sweatshops, small shops, markets and households around the country. This, says Lacson, is a 9.3% increase from the 9.6 million households with working children in 1995.

Seventy percent of child laborers are not being paid properly by their employers and almost all are abused. Three out of every five working children between the ages 5 to 17 years old did not receive their salaries and if others got paid at all, it was on a daily basis or “pakyaw” or per task basis, a flagrant violation of the Labor Code of the Philippines.

More than half a million child laborers are employed in factories and households in Southern Tagalog, followed by those in Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Mindanao. Most of these Filipino kids are male between the ages of 10-14 years old and 7 out of 10 live in depressed rural areas.

Forty percent of child laborers are not attending school with 3% reportedly not ever having attended any school. Worse, says Lacson, these child laborers work more than the required 8-hour work schedule and mostly, work without being paid. About 59% work in wholesale and retail establishments, motor repair shops and personal and household goods.

Lacson blames the lack of job opportunities for heads of these families as the primary factor for the rise of child workers. In January of this year, an estimated 36 million Filipinos were unemployed. This accounts for a 5% increase over last year’s estimate of 34.3 million unemployed Filipinos.

To discourage the rise of child laborers, Lacson believes that there should be stricter penalties against companies or factories who abuse or illegally use underaged Filipino workers. Lacson says that under the principle of parens patriae, government has the right to protect the rights of children who are being exploited by these companies.

“Impose stricter penalties on those erring employers who abuse or use child workers without complying with legal requirements — I believe this should be implemented immediately to discourage child employment and lessen the incidence of child abuse in the labor sector.”

Lacson also urged government to intensify the program of giving incentives to poor parents who send their kids to school instead of giving them to factories and households to work as unskilled laborers. Children are supposed to study, instead of work.

“Government should actively promote incentives for parents to bring and keep their children in school, such as rice or food subsidies. The “incentive to school” programs being undertaken by the DECS should be strengthened. Both the DECS and the DOLE should work hand-in-hand in solving this serious problem of child laborers. We need to protect our children more adequately, and provide means for parents to continue supporting education for the youth.”