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