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03/10/2011: US Labor Department Awards Php645 million Grant in Fight against Child Labor in Philippines

Shown in the photo above are Ambassador Jose Cuisia (2nd from left) and US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (3rd from left) with, from left, Deputy Labor Undersecretary Sandra Polaski, Senator Tom Harkin, International Labor Organization Director Constance Thomas, and World Vision-Philippines Project Director Daphne Culanag.

03 October 2011, Washington, D.C. – United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced today the award of a Php 645 million (US$15 million) grant for the Philippines to support sustainable efforts to combat exploitative child labor in the principal sugarcane growing regions of the country.  The announcement was made during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the US Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. participated in the high-level event, which also announced the release of three (3) reports on international child labor and forced labor.  Also present was Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a champion of the child labor issue in the US Congress.

“The Philippine Government welcomes the innovative initiative of the US Government, through the Department of Labor (US DOL), in fighting exploitative child labor, in terms of programmatic interventions and policy recommendations,” Ambassador Cuisia said during the panel discussion, which also included DOL Deputy Undersecretary Sandra Polaski, International Labor Organization (ILO) Director for the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) Constance Thomas, and World Vision-Philippines Project Director Daphne Culanag.

Ambassador Cuisia said that the grant fully complements the Social Development Framework of the Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016, supporting the Philippine Government’s existing policies, programs, and institutional mechanisms that address child labor.

Secretary Solis emphasized that eradicating child labor is one of the top priorities of the Obama Administration and that “every child should be given an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.” Among the three grants awarded today totaling US$32.5 million, US$15 million will also be allocated to a 40-country “Research to Action” project to be implemented by the ILO that will not only produce a Global Action Plan to combat exploitative child labor and forced labor but will also translate into “legislations, enforcement, policies and social protection measures.”

Senator Harkin expressed optimism that the US DOL reports will soon “equal, in stature, to the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.” He said that updating the child labor legislation in the US, especially in the agriculture sector, “will shine a spotlight on this tragedy…a form of human slavery.”

World Vision-Philippines is the winning implementing entity of the US$15 million four-year program (October 2011-September 2015) for the Philippines. Among the project’s activities are: expanding and enhancing formal schools and alternative learning opportunities, including vocational education for targeted children; strengthening educational services through teacher training, curriculum improvement, and infrastructure repairs; and offering livelihood support and social protection programs to working and at-risk children and targeted household members. The organization was also a recipient of a US$5.5 million grant from the US DOL to “Combat Child Labor through Education in the Philippines.” The four-year project, which concluded last 30 September 2011, successfully withdrew 61,000 Filipino children from the worst forms of child labor.

The US DOL's annual "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and/or Forced Labor” was mandated by the Trade Development Act of 2000 (TDA).  ILO estimates that around 250 million children are exploited or are engaged in forced labor; almost half or 115 million work in hazardous areas. END