ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Rep. Rey Reyes has slammed the seeming lack of a focused government response to the worsening child labor problem in the country.
“The half a million jump in the number of child laborers in the country from 2020 should be raising red flags. This is unacceptable," Reyes said in a statement.
The solon recently learned from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that there were 1.37 million working children aged five to 17 years old in 2021. This is higher than the 872,333 children of the same age working in 2020.
Based on the PSA report, the children considered engaged in child labor increased from 596,919 in 2020 to 935,120 in 2021. Victims of child labor are being made to do undesirable activities or work in a hazardous environment, work rendered for more than 40 hours a week, and work beyond allowable hours.
“These are a smack in the face of the proper authorities and should remind them that there remains a lot of room for government to improve on in the enforcement of laws barring the employment of children," Reyes said.
PSA figures showed that agriculture had the highest proportion of working children at 45.7 percent, followed by the services sector, which accounted for 45.4 percent of the total working children.
The industry sector had the lowest share of underaged workers with nine percent.
“Children should have strong foundations to prepare them for their productive years ahead. While Filipino culture encourages hard work among the young and help in house chores during their free time, children should be in school and not in the workplace,” the neophyte solon said.
“I call on the executive agencies to do their job and address this issue. If there are loopholes and inadequacies in existing laws, issue the necessary policy recommendations to Congress," he added.