BAN Toxics, ILO call for an end to child labor in small-scale mining

  • January 12, 2017

QUEZON CITY, Jan. 12 - BAN Toxics, together with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor (DOLE), today called for an end to child labor in the Philippines.

The call came during the event, “Makiisa para sa #1MBatangMalaya” (One with children to end child labor) which featured the launch of three major initiatives to combat child labor in the country.

BAN Toxics in particular called for an end to child labor in small-scale mining. Together with ILO, the group launched the initiative CARING Gold, a three-year strategy to eliminate child labor in small-scale mine sites, with Camarines Norte as the pilot site.

The project, funded by the US Department of Labor, is eyeing the formalization of the small-scale mining industry as a critical solution to prevent boys and girls from working in mines. “Child labor is complex and deeply rooted in poverty. Children suffer and risk their health or even their lives to work for their family’s survival.

Ending child labor requires strong commitment and collective effort,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines. As an informal livelihood and unregulated industry, artisanal and small-scale mining reproduces poverty and vulnerability in many ways. It is associated with poor labor practices, environmental destruction and social problems. Formalization is expected open the way for better regulatory and monitoring mechanisms that will support improved working conditions, increase the access of workers and communities to social services and eliminate child labor in the sector.

“Eliminating child labor in small-scale mining starts by ending the vilification of the sector and giving impoverished families a fair chance,” said BAN Toxics CEO Atty Richard Gutierrez. “The government needs to recognize small-scale mining as a legitimate economic activity that brings benefits to communities and which can be a driver in generating income and reducing poverty in the countryside.”

Child work in mining is considered one of the worst forms of child labor. In 2009 ILO estimated that around 18,000 Filipino children work in small-scale mining and quarrying.

However, the figure may be higher since child labor cases are largely unreported. Child miners crush rock, haul ore or are involved in sluicing, panning or smelting. They carry heavy loads, work long hours and are frequently exposed to toxic chemicals such as mercury. Children’s bodies are still developing and such work conditions and toxic exposure negatively impact their physical and mental development. Because it is informal, small-scale mining is largely outside the government radar.

Labor conditions in the sector are unmonitored and fall way below accepted standards. Workers usually have no access to protective equipment and do not have fair labor contracts, healthcare nor social security. Child labor is prevalent. Ironically, while workers are mired in poverty, the sector remains a major economic contributor, providing as much as 80% of the Philippines’ annual gold production. It directly employs around half a million people and indirectly benefits two million people in remote rural communities. But lack of formalization has prevented the equitable distribution of benefits from small-scale mining, with money going to foreign middlemen and illegal payoffs to corrupt authorities, instead of to legitimate payments that can augment local government income.

The CARING Gold project is designed to support the setting-up of Minahang Bayan areas that are compliant with environmental, health, labor and social justice standards. The formalization of the industry is also expected to make an additional valuable contribution to the local economy. BAN Toxics is an independent non-government environmental organization that works for the advancement of environmental justice, health and sustainable development in the area of chemicals and wastes, with a special focus on women, children and other marginalized sectors. (BAN Toxics)


Other News

PIA to launch ASEAN Information Kiosk inside Clark International Airport
  • March 27, 2017
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, March 27 (PIA) -- Philippine Information Agency (PIA) is set to launch on March 28 its ASEAN Information Kiosk inside Clark International Airport.   “This seeks to provide useful information on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines, Central Luzon, Pampanga, and government services to Overseas Filipino Workers, and local and foreign tourists. This is part of hyping Clark’s hosting of the centerpiece 31st ASEAN Summit and related meetings come November 2017,” PIA Regional Director William Beltran said.          “The ...Read more
KumpaS: Listening to the Filipino, One Barangay at a Time
  • March 26, 2017
The President’s communication group intends to hear out concerns and hold discussions on key national issues with a new grassroots campaign led by Secretary Martin Andanar In Manila, an article noting that there’s a dangerous heat wave was circulating all over the net. It was 41 degrees the day before and the warmth can be felt across the Metropolis. The weather was as unforgiving in Bacolod City that Friday afternoon. The heat was searing, but there were people working overtime at the covered court of Jose Torres Elementary School where an event is about to take place in a few hours. ...Read more
President Duterte breaks ground for drug rehab center in Bukidnon
  • March 26, 2017
MALAYBALAY CITY, BUKIDNON – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, March 25, led the groundbreaking of the Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DARTC) here in Bukidnon. With a capacity of around 500-800 patients, the P 700-million drug rehabilitation center will soon rise in a five-hectare land in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, which was donated to its city government. In his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony of DARTC, President Duterte encouraged the illegal drug dependents to surrender because they "cannot discern what is right and what is wrong" when they are into suc...Read more
CSC issues clarificatory rule on state workers with dual citizenship
  • March 26, 2017
QUEZON CITY, March 26 -- The Civil Service Commission (CSC) announced that incumbent government employees who have dual citizenship had until last Thursday, 23 March 2017, to renounce their foreign citizenship.   CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said that, per CSC Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 23, s. 2016 issued on 15 September 2016, failure to meet the deadline for renouncing foreign citizenship by employees covered by the said policy would result in the recall of the prior approval/validation of their appointments.   Recently, the Commission issued a clarification thru MC ...Read more