By Zaldy De Layola

(File photo)

MANILA – It might be time to review existing laws aimed at protecting children’s welfare.

Rizal (4th District) Rep. Fidel Nograles, also Committee on Labor and Employment chair, particularly mentioned Republic Act (RA) 9231 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

“Kailangan nating matingnan kung sapat pa ba ang mga batas natin upang maitaguyod ang kapakanan ng mga bata kontra sa child labor (We need to find out if our laws are still enough to protect the welfare of the children against child labor),” he said in a news release on Sunday.

He underscored the need for more social protection services, quality education and better economic opportunities that would mitigate the effect of poverty on families, thus preventing them from engaging the help of children for their livelihood.

“We need to exhaust more measures and enlist more allies so we can protect our children from the dangers of child labor and exploitation,” he said.

Nograles would initiate a meeting with other stakeholders to discuss what measures could be crafted and implemented to help address the issue.

“Hindi lang ito usapin ng batas. Ang kailangan natin dito ay multi-sectoral approach (It’s not only a matter of law. What we need here is a multi-sectoral approach),” Nograles said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data for 2021 showed 1.37 million working children aged five to 17 years old, up from 872,333 in 2020.

The PSA added that 62.8 percent or 858,000 of the child laborers were boys while girls made up 37.2 percent or 508,200.

Agriculture accounted for the highest proportion of working children at 45.7 percent, followed by the services sector at 45.4 percent.

“Ang mga bata, dapat nag-aaral at naglalaro, hindi nagtatrabaho, upang lumaki silang kayang abutin ang rurok ng kanilang potensyal (The children, should be studying and playing, not working, to grow up capable of reaching the best of their potentials),” Nograles said.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) said child labor deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity, and is harmful to physical and mental development. (PNA)