DOLE widens ban on child labor in agriculture

Patty Pasion
DOLE widens ban on child labor in agriculture
The agriculture sector, which employs more than 85,000 children, has the highest incidence of child labor in the country

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered more prohibitions for minors in the agriculture and livestock farming sectors, as part of the government’s efforts to curb child labor in the country.

Bello’s Department Order No. 149-A, issued on Tuesday, January 17, classifies farming-related work as hazardous and considers it one of the worst forms of child labor.

Farming activities include grafting, budding and marcotting, and tending work involving weeding of soil.

The order also reiterated the ban on employing children in activities such as clearing of land, plowing, harrowing, irrigating, constructing paddy dikes, and cutting.

Exposure to harmful fertilizers and pesticides, as well as carrying heavy loads, are now considered hazardous labor. (READ: Study: At least 1 in 5 PH households tolerates child labor

Also prohibited are tasks in the post-harvest stage of production, specified as:

  • de-husking, scooping, sacking of products
  • charcoal making
  • hauling of products as led by animal guide
  • loading and unloading of packed farm products
  • coconut kilning and de-meating from shell or core
  • sealing and carting of produce for warehousing
  • transport to market and all ancillary work such as clearing cleaning, and recycling of farm waste

Meanwhile, in livestock farming, the following activities are declared as hazardous:

  • rearing such as collecting, loading, unloading, and transporting of feeds
  • maintenance and care of large and/or dangerous animals
  • collecting and disposal of dead animals, animal manure, and other waste materials
  • administering of vaccines and vitamins
  • handling of disinfectants used for cleaning animal pens

The order also strictly prohibits minors from working in slaughterhouses.

Based on the Listahanan database of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the agriculture sector has the most number of child laborers at 85,570.

Child labor also remains rampant overall, with more than 2.5 million children engaged in hazardous labor.

The DSWD and DOLE, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO), vowed last January 12 to free one million kids from child labor through their campaign #1MBatangMalaya. This campaign seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending child labor by 2025. –

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.