Between 250 thousand to 1 million children are estimated to be loitering the streets of Manila. Most are begging for alms or taking on menial jobs just to get through every day.
Poverty and child labor cases rose higher in the Philippines since the pandemic. Many children are being forced into dangerous labor due to economic hardship. According to the Philippine Statistics Office, around 50,000 Filipino domestic workers are minors, and 5,000 are under 14 years old.
Child scavenges for scraps he can sell for a few coins
However, Republic Act 9231 sets 15 years old as the minimum employable age. This means that you are not allowed to hire people below 15, whether it’s for public or private work. While employers can hire people ages 15-18 years old, they should not:
•Engage children in the worst forms of child labor
•Hire them to model in advertisements for alcoholic drinks, smoking, drugs, gambling, or any media involving violence or pornography
•Make them work for more than 40 hours a week and 8 hours a day
•Make them work during 10 PM to 6 AM
•Deprive them of education
Most child laborers are found in the rural areas. Unfortunately, child laborers in rural areas are even more likely to work without attending school.
There are still exceptions to the age limit however, such as:
•Working under family supervision or in the family business
•When children’s participation is needed in public entertainment media such as cinema and television (i.e., child actors)
Regardless of the kind of work they have, employment should follow strict conditions on the child’s work hour, safety, and education. No child should have to work in tedious and dangerous environments and deprived of their rights should they be eligible for employment.
We in SOS Children’s Villages Philippines advocate against child labor and exploitation. Along with other groups, we call on the government to take measures to protect Filipino children. We also helped draft and lobby the Alternative Care Bill (link to past article) in an effort to protect and provide care for children, including those who experience dangerous child labor and human trafficking.