Tag Archive for: Philippines

Filipino children risk death to dive and dig for gold

By Deborah Andrews, CLC Contributing Writer

Deborah Andrews the real oneIn September 2015, Human Rights Watch released a report, “Phillipines: Children Risk Death to Dig and dive for Gold,” exposing the desperate working conditions of many of those involved in the Filipino gold mining industry. It is a worthy, informative and thought provoking read. In 2014, the Philippines produced 18 tons of gold. HRW researchers discovered that an estimated 70-80% came from small-scale mines, financed by local businessmen and operated without any basic machinery. These mines are worked by 200,000-300,000 people — many of them children aged 11-17, but some as young as 9 years old.

Most gold in the Philippines is underwater. To mine it, workers dive into narrow shafts often ten yards deep and only two feet wide. Using oxygen tubes to breathe, operated by a diesel compressor at the surface, workers can stay mining under water for 1-2 hours at a time. This is hazardous work. HRW researchers found that compressors frequently break due to mudslides; workers get extremely cold underwater; the diesel compressors can cause carbon monoxide poisoning; and a bacterium in the water causes a skin disease known as Romborombo that leaves skin irritated and infected.

Dry shafts can be 25 yards deep and have oxygen pumped into them by an air blower. Workers often work up to 24-hour shifts with only a short break above ground. There are frequent accidents. In 2014, two brothers suffocated, but the practice continues.

Disturbingly, HRW report authors discovered that mercury is widely used to process the gold. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, causing muscle spasms, brain damage, permanent disability, and even death. It is particularly harmful to children’s developing nervous systems. This unrestricted mercury use is now also contaminating the fish population, a vital food source – further endangering the people.

Read more


Philippines Becomes Second Country to Ratify Domestic Workers Convention (HRW Press Release)

For Immediate Release [Human Rights Watch Press Release, 8/6/12]

(Manila, August 6, 2012) – The Philippines’ ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention will bring the groundbreaking international treaty into legal force, promising better working conditions and key labor protections for millions of domestic workers, Human Rights Watch said today. The convention takes effect one year after the second ratification.

The Philippine Senate ratified the instrument today; President Benigno Aquino III signed it on May 18, 2012, following the treaty’s first ratification, by Uruguay, on April 30.

“The Philippines’ ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention means that basic labor rights for domestic workers are finally becoming a reality,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “As the treaty goes into effect, millions of women and girls will have the chance for better working conditions and better lives.”

The Domestic Workers Convention sets the first global standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. Domestic workers face a wide range of serious abuses and labor exploitation, including excessive working hours without rest, non-payment of wages, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and trafficking. Under the treaty, domestic workers are entitled to protections available to other workers, including weekly days off, limits to hours of work, and minimum wage and social security coverage. The convention also obliges governments to protect domestic workers from violence and abuse, and to prevent child labor in domestic work.

The Philippines has approximately two million domestic workers at home and millions more abroad. Remittances from Filipino migrant domestic workers, mostly women, constitute a significant source of the country’s foreign exchange. Filipinos working abroad send home over US$20 billion per year.

Migrant domestic workers are often at heightened risk of exploitation due to excessive recruitment fees, language barriers, and national policies that link workers’ immigration status to individual employers. Human Rights Watch has documented abuses against Filipino migrant domestic workers in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, including beatings, confiscation of passports, confinement to the home, overlong working hours with no days off, and in some cases, months or years of unpaid wages.

Read more


Conflict and Economic Downturn Cause Global Increase in Reported Child Labor Violations- 40% of Countries now rated ‘extreme risk’ by Maplecroft

Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Philippines expose companies to high levels of supply chain risk

An annual study by risk analysis firm Maplecroft has revealed that 76 countries now pose ‘extreme’ child labour complicity risks for companies operating worldwide, due to worsening global security and the economic downturn. This constitutes an increase of more than 10% from last year’s total of 68 ‘extreme risk’ countries.

The Child Labour Index 2012 evaluates the frequency and severity of reported child labour incidents in 197 countries. Worryingly, nearly 40% of all countries have been classified as ‘extreme risk’ in the index, with conflict torn and authoritarian states topping the ranking. Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan are ranked joint first, while DR Congo (5), Zimbabwe (6), Afghanistan (7), Burundi (8), Pakistan (9) and Ethiopia (10) round off the worst performers.

The Child Labour Index has been developed by Maplecroft to evaluate the extent of country-level child labour practices and the performance of governments in preventing child labour and ensuring the accountability of perpetrators. By doing so, the index enables companies to identify risks of children being employed within their supply chains in violation of the standards on minimum age of employment. The index also analyses the risk of the involvement of children in work, the conditions of which could have a negative impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of child labourers.

Maplecroft suggests that the global increase in the use of child labour is mainly caused by a deteriorating human security situation worldwide. This has resulted in increased numbers of internally displaced children and refugees who, together with children from minority communities, continue to be the groups at most risk of economic exploitation. Sub-Saharan Africa is identified as the region posing the most risk in this respect but most of the growth economies have their own unique conditions in respect of child labour and its remediation. Read more


At the Deep End: Child Labor in Fisheries

from Malaya Business Insight, PHILIPPINES

FILIPINO children work in extremely hazardous fisheries.

The most notorious and extremely dangerous of deep sea jobs is in muro-ami which employs children as swimmers and divers using nets to fish in reefs.

Called reef hunters, they dive for fish or free snagged nets. The perception is that their smaller bodies are better for diving deeper and that their fingers are nimble to hook and unhook nets.

The job is called by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) extremely hazardous child labor in a country where, it estimates, as much as 5 percent of children work in fisheries.

Child divers risk ear damage, injuries from falls, shark attacks, snake bites and drowning, says the International Labor Organization (ILO). Read more


Asia Leads World in Child-Labor Products: US Report


WASHINGTON – India, Bangladesh and the Philippines lead the world in the number of products made by child workers, a US government stock-taking of the global scale of underaged labor revealed Monday.

Some 130 types of goods – from building bricks and soccer balls to pornography and rare ores used in cellphones – involve child labor in 71 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Department of Labor said.

“We believe that we all have God-given potential … and every child should be given the right to fulfil their dreams,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at the release of the 10th annual “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.”

Focusing this year on hazardous work performed by children, and relying in good part on International Labor Organization data, the report examines efforts by more than 140 countries to address the worst forms of child labor.

The International Labor Organization estimates that more than 215 million children are involved in child labor.

One-third of countries have yet to define hazardous kinds of work prohibited to children, it said. Some nations have no minimum age for such work, and still more lack the means to monitor and enforce bans on dangerous child labor.

A rundown of goods produced by child labor, issued alongside the report, underlined the degree to which youngsters in developing nations are forced to work, rather than go to school, for little if any wages.

India topped the list, with its children being used to make no fewer than 20 products, including bidis, bricks, fireworks, footwear, glass bangles, incense, locks, matches, rice, silk fabric and thread, and soccer balls.

India also led a separate list of products made by forced or indentured child labor – seven types of goods in all, including carpets, embroidered textiles and garments.

In Bangladesh, children produced 14 kinds of goods, many of them of an industrial nature, such as bricks, footwear, steel furniture, leather, matches, and textiles including jute.

In the Philippines, children took part in the production of bananas, coconuts, corn, fashion accessories, gold, hogs, pornography, pyrotechnics, rice, rubber, sugar cane and tobacco.

The Department of Labor announced Monday a $15 million grant to the World Vision charity “to address the worst forms of child labor in sugar cane production” in the Philippines.

Sandra Polaski, deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the Department of Labor, told AFP that India’s place atop the child-labor table reflected its billion-plus population, and not neglect of the issue.

“India is one of the two largest countries in the world, and so the larger the country, if there is significant poverty, you would expect to see more” child labor, she told AFP.

“The Indian government is the first to say they have to find more ambitious ways” of tackling the problem, she said, adding that New Delhi took a big step in 2010 when elementary education was made compulsory across the country.

Worldwide, Polaski said, the United States expects to see an uptick in the use of child labor as a consequence of the economic slump of 2008 from which the world has yet to re-emerge.

“We expect that some more children have fallen back into child labor,” she said. “As households have been pushed in some countries below the poverty line, they’ve made up the difference (in income) with child labor.”

Child labor remains in much of Latin America, but Polaski welcomed signs of progress – particularly in Brazil where child labor persists in agriculture, but poverty-fighting policies are showing results.

In Africa, children are working at mines in Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly at those producing cassiterite and coltan – both used in the assembly of mobile phones – and wolframite, used for tungsten steel.


Bicol Takes Fight vs Child Labor to the Internet

Labor officials in Bicol have taken the fight against child labor to the Internet, with a web-based system that profiles and tracks down child labor offenders.

The Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System (CLKSS) program is accessible to child labor program coordinators and the Regional Anti-Child Labor Committee.

“It is basically a regional data hub. Any member of the RACLC, or any claim holder or duty bearer may register or log on to the CLKSS portal” and gain access to its products and services, as well as participate in twits or discussions”, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Child Labor Program (CLP) Coordinator and Statistician Cyre Cabredo said.

DOLE Bicol regional head lawyer Alvin Villamor noted lack of data on child labor is a tough problem in the DOLE’s child labor prevention and elimination program.

“The CLKSS, which is being administered by the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), contains relevant information on child labor cases, statistics on child labor, and other data that may lead to the detection, apprehension and, hopefully, putting behind bars child labor offenders,” the DOLE said. Read more


Save the Children

Editorial Mindinao Times

Written by: Times Editors , Times Editors

The plan of the regional office to investigate child labor in mining areas is long overdue.
On Tuesday, Regional Director Joffrey Suyao said his agency will look into reports that children were being employed in small scale mining areas. Suyao, who faced the media in the region for the first time after being named to the position, said he has heard from reports that children were among those who were killed in the Good Friday landslide in a small scale mining site in Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley that claimed scores of lives.

The employment of children in small scale mining areas is a fact. One just has to visit any of the small scale mining sites in the country, not just the region, and find for himself or herself that children who can barely carry a 20-kilo sack are made to carry such a load to a length that even a grownup will find difficult.

The sad fact is that in some cases, it is the parents who pushed their children to work in very difficult situations. These children may want to protest, but the waiting belts have pushed them to continue working.

The harsh condition, the danger and the deprivation of basic needs are just one aspect that these children are facing while working in these mining sites. The fact that all facets of their growth are compromised is what must be given more attention.

So it is high time not only for the government, but also for their parents to find ways on how to take them away from these areas.

May we, therefore, call on Regional Director Suyao to make good his statement, something that his predecessors have failed to look into? It is high time that these children are sent to schools rather than exposed to danger.


Pinay gets World’s Children’s Honorary Award


MANILA, Philippines – For her “tireless struggle” against child labor and trafficking, Filipina Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is one of the 2 recipients of the World’s Children’s Honorary Award.

The award was given by the World’s Children’s Prize, an educational program involving 24.5 million pupils in 102 countries. Flores-Oebanda started working at age 5, and has since committed herself to fighting for the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable children.

She founded the Visayan Forum, an organization that has rescued tens of thousands of girls from slave labor and trafficking.

The other recipient of the World’s Children’s Honorary Award is Monira Rahman of Bangladesh. Her organization, ASF, helped reduce the number of acid attacks in her country by saving hundreds of child victims of acid and petrol dousing.

She has also sent some victims abroad for extensive plastic surgery.

This year’s recipient of the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child is Murhabazi Namagabe from D.R. Congo for his “dangerous struggle to free children forced to be child soldiers or sex slaves.”

Namagabe visits armed groups to inform them about children’s rights, and offers protection to freed child soldiers.

Candidates are chosen by a child jury, with support from teachers and organizations across the globe. Among the patrons of the World’s Children’s Prize are Nelson Mandela, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden and Graca Machel.


Study says Philippines has the Worst Forms of Child Labor

[source: Press release House of Representatives, Philippines:]

Writer: Isagani C. Yambot Jr., MRS-PRIB

Lawmakers recently called for a congressional probe on the report of the United States Department of Labor that the Philippines “has the worst forms of child labor.”

In House Resolution 1058, Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) urged the House Committee on Labor and Employment to dig deep into the report and summon the concerned government agencies to shed light on the matter.

Rodriguez said the report of the US Department of Labor was submitted to US Vice President Joseph Biden and the US Congress. Read more