A Catholic prelate has called on the government to intensify the effort to end child labor in the country.
Daet Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth, issued the call in reaction to the October 2019 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) saying of the 1.4 million Filipinos working as “kasambahays” in the country, about 4 percent or more than 40,000 are child domestic workers aged below 18 years old.
The survey also showed that less than 1 percent or about 5,000 of the child domestic workers are below 15 years old.
“This is a very sad and unfortunate reality for our children. While it may be a complex situation, indeed government and all sectors of society must strive to end this unfortunate situation as it opens children to further exploitation,” said Alarcon in an interview Sunday.
“Again, we need to intensify efforts to protect the most vulnerable, especially children. And to continue to work for their safety and well-being,” he added.
Father Melvin Castro, former executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, blamed poverty for child labor.
“Poor families accept any kind of work, at any age, in order to survive. Hence, the real issue is addressing poverty,” he said.
Castro said the current economic downturn caused by the pandemic further worsens the situation.
“We need all sectors of society to extend a helping hand, to protect especially the most vulnerable,” he said.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE’s) Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) Director Karina Perida-Trayvilla lasr week reminded the public that the Kasambahay Law strictly prohibits employing minors, or those who are below 15 years old, as domestic workers because it is considered a clear form of child labor and exploitation.
Republic Act No. 10361 or the Kasambahay Law states that it is unlawful to employ children under the age of 15. It is also illegal to withhold their wages and benefits and require them to make deposits for loss or damaged items in the household, and placing them on debt bondage.
“If employers are proven guilty of employing minors as kasambahay, they can be penalized with a fine ranging from P10,000 to P40,000. These penalties are on top of the civil and criminal charges that can be filed against the employers under the R.A. 9231 or the act on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor,” Trayvilla said.