Children and youth from Tanza, Cavite; Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and Santa Rosa, Laguna launched a campaign against child trafficking for labor exploitation.
The campaign titled #FREE , an acronym for “Fight for our Rights, End Exploitation,” aims to correct the cultural practice that promotes child labor, through informative and creative activities.
Through the campaign, children and youth urge government to prosecute violators of anti-child labor laws and the Anti-Child Trafficking Law, which considers child trafficking for labor exploitation as a crime.
Christian Faith Antonio, President of the PACT children and youth organization, I Against Child Trafficking (IACT) told more than 500 high school students of Cabanatuan City that their Region (Region III) has the most number of child laborers. “It is sad that we have many neglected children in our communities, among them child laborers. Consider yourselves blessed because you enjoy basic needs and are able to attend school. We must help the least of our brothers and sisters and do something to prevent this problem,” Antonio said.
For her part, youth leader Kristal Almodovar of President of I Participate Against Child Trafficking or IPACT said that in her City in Santa Rosa, some children can be seen begging in the streets or scavenging at the sacrifice of their education.
PACT-Youth groups launched #FREE campaign from June 25-27 through a concert and symposia to gather the support of students from Tanza, Cabanatuan City, and Santa Rosa City.
There are approximately 3.2 million child laborers in the Philippines working in the agricultural, industrial and service sectors with 3 million of them in the worst forms of child labor, according to a survey conducted by the National Statistics Office and the International Labor Organization in 2011. However as of May 2014, out of approximately 129 trafficking cases with convictions, only one case is known to involve trafficking for forced labor or labor exploitation.
Children victims of labor exploitation experience inhuman living and working conditions: meager salaries; work that is too heavy, difficult or dangerous considering the mental and physical capabilities of children; and lack of protection for safe conditions of work. PACT National Coordinator Maria Salome Ujano emphasized that it is the parents’ primary responsibility to ensure the survival and development of their children.
“Parents or families with no sufficient means to provide for their family’s survival must be helped by the government, not by the child. The survival of the Filipino family and the economy of the communities should not be placed on the fragile shoulders of the Filipino child,” Ujano added.
PACT, in partnership with PACT children and youth groups – Tanza Organization Against Child Trafficking (TO ACT); IACT of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; I Participate Against Child Trafficking (IPACT) of Santa Rosa, Laguna; and ACT for CHILDREN of Davao City leads the #FREE campaign. Similar anti-child labor activities were also conducted in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat; and Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
#FREE campaign was mainly sponsored by Terre des Hommes Netherlands Other supporters include: the Department of Labor and Employment; the LGUs of Santa Rosa in Laguna, Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, Tanza in Cavite, Jaen, Nueva Ecija; and the Province of Laguna; the Department of Education Divsion of Santa Rosa; Holy Rosary College (Santa Rosa City); Wesleyan Univerity of the Philippines; Punta Elementary School; Enchanted Kingdom; I Love Santa Rosa and Ford Cabanatuan.