..MANILA, Philippines --- A senator on Thursday urged the government to increase the National Child Labor Committee's (NCLC) budget to effectively carry out policy efforts against child labor.
Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the government should strengthen the NCLC by allocating more funds to it to effectively stop the rising number of street children in the country.
"A presidential fiat would be a fitting gesture after the observance of the World Day Against Child Abuse last June 12, since child labor is one of the worst forms of child abuse," Cayetano said.
Street children, Cayetano said, are most vulnerable to exploitation and child labor.
"Children should be given the opportunity to exercise their right to live a life free from forced labor. If it is within our power to see to it that this right is upheld, then it would be an injustice not to exert all possible efforts to do so," he said.
There is an urgent need to increase the NCLC's budget to match the challenges facing the Philippines vis-à-vis the 2015 global target to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, Cayetano said.
"We have to empower agencies that will help us meet the goal of reducing child labor by at least 75 percent by year 2015," he said.
He also urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to launch a joint nationwide education campaign aimed at creating higher awareness towards child labor and exploitation in order to protect the vulnerable children against those who exploit their innocence.
"We need to see more government agencies checking on industries that hire child laborers and in communities where parents are known to force their children to seek employment," the senator said, adding that the government must also be prepared to support both the rehabilitation of the children and the parents.
Cayetano earlier raised alarm over the International Labor Organization (ILO) report that showed 2.4 million children from 9 to 17 years old are employed in the country.
Despite being a signatory to various ILO Conventions that prevent child labor, t the Philippines is known to have one of the largest number of child laborers in the world, he said.
"The government has to find ways to alleviate poverty in the country and provide more opportunities for these street children's parents to be able to provide for themselves and their families," he said.