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US REPORT: RP has high child labor incidence

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MANILA, Philippines?The Philippines is one of the countries with a significant incidence of child labor in the agricultural sector, according to a report from the US Department of Labor.

The report lists the goods produced using child and forced labor in the 77 countries studied.

According to the department Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the hog, banana, coconut, rice, rubber, sugarcane, tobacco, corn industries in the Philippines use child labor.

It also noted that child labor can be found in the gold mining sector, fashion accessories manufacturing, pyrotechnics industry, and pornography.

The report did not cite the Philippines as one of the countries that has a high incidence of forced labor.

Under international law, child labor is defined as work performed by a person aged under 15. Work in the pornography industry by persons under 18 is also considered child labor.

The report aims to raise awareness of the exploitation of children in the labor sector and to promote efforts to eliminate such practices.

By identifying the goods made in exploitative conditions, the report, which was released Thursday, hopes to discourage American consumers from buying these products.

The most common items listed include cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, coffee, rice and cocoa in agriculture; bricks, garments, carpets and footwear in manufacturing; and gold and coal in mined and quarried goods, the report noted.

“It is my strong hope that consumers, firms, governments, labor unions and other stakeholders will use this information to translate their economic power into a force for good that ultimately will eliminate abusive child labor and forced labor,” said US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment said it would validate the findings of the US department. In a statement, DOLE said it has made headway in its campaign to eliminate child labor in the Philippines.

“While we acknowledge the existence of child labor in the Philippines, we emphasize that our efforts to address the problem have already gone down the barangay or community level,” the statement said.

The labor department also noted that it does not recognize the methodology used in the US study, but said it would look into the sectors cited in the report.

“As to the US DOL’s inclusion of some goods allegedly produced by child labor in the Philippines, it may take the DOLE some time to validate this assertion, but we have instructed our regional officers to discuss the report with the industry sectors mentioned with the end in view of getting their concerns so that the Department can work out specific interventions to address these,” DOLE said in a statement.

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