UCA News


Philippine bishop voices alarm over child workers

Calls for combined effort to tackle problems causing children to work in dangerous occupations

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: November 08, 2019 08:01 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Philippine bishop voices alarm over child workers

Children in an urban poor community share food they were able to solicit from the streets of Manila. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Share this article :
A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has warned of a growing number of child workers being exposed to dangerous working conditions.

Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Catechism and Catholic Education at the bishops' conference, said the situation was alarming and saddening.

"The root of this sad reality is poverty and lack of livelihood options," said the prelate, adding that children have the right to the basic necessities of life that society has failed to provide.

"The situation of the suffering children and those who are deprived of their rights and dignity leaves a great challenge to us as a church and as a society," Bishop Mallari said.

The Labor Department, in a recent report, said there are over 7,000 child workers, ranging from ages four to 17, in and around capital Manila. 

The report revealed that most of the children work as street vendors, while others are engaged in waste management, construction, transportation, domestic work and manufacturing.

The report, released last week, also showed that 24 percent of child laborers are not attending school due to lack of financial support or are not interested in education at all.

Meanwhile, estimates put the number of child laborers across the Philippines at more than two million. 

A  study by the International Labor Organization found that about 95 percent of these child laborers are engaged in hazardous work.

Bishop Mallari called for a cooperative effort in solving the problems that lead to child labor. "God entrusted to us his beloved children," he said. "Ours is a task of taking care of them and being with them in their values formation." 

In 2018, the US Labor Department warned in a report that a large number of children in the Philippines are still forced into sexual exploitation and drug trafficking.

The report, however, noted that the Philippines had made "a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor."

It noted that the government had already started a process of profiling child laborers and introduced guidelines to remove them from child labor and connect them with the services they need.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."