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ASEAN Member States, DOLE, World Vision, unite to share information on child labor

Pauline Giselle D. Navarro


ASEAN Member States, DOLE, World Vision, unite to share information on child labor
ASEAN member states and child rights organizations gathered in Manila to enhance strategies against severe child labor, with a focus on the Philippines and Vietnam, and concluded with a commitment to apply shared learnings, supported by World Vision's Project ACE funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member states, child rights organizations, key institutions, and sectoral bodies, among others, gathered to share information on addressing child labor and its worst forms on May 28 – 31, 2024, in Manila, Philippines through a high-level event entitled “International Public Information Sharing among ASEAN Member States & Other Countries in Asia.”

World Vision Philippines’ Project Against Child Exploitation, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, organized the event, which was a momentous event for advocates across Asia.

The primary objective of the initiative is to enhance the strategies of the Philippines and Vietnam governments through the valuable inputs from the participants, as they shared their promising practices in their efforts to combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL), including Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and violations of Acceptable Conditions of Work (ACW).

“Project ACE has a proud history of successfully engaging international and national agencies, local governments, and key stakeholders in the fight to uphold children’s rights and protect them from exploitation. Through numerous capacity-building initiatives and contributions to the creation of laws, ordinances, and agreements, we have made significant strides towards ensuring the sustainability of our efforts to safeguard children’s welfare,” said Mr. Godornes, emphasizing the organization’s partnership with government agencies that have resulted in significant changes in the child protection landscape.

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The event provided a platform for the guests to share their experiences through presentations that focused on the three suggested themes: Enforcement, Family and Child Victim Care, and Convergence. Presentations were not only shared by Project ACE partners in Philippines and Vietnam but also came from ASEAN member states and other countries in Asia.

Child labor has been a significant issue of concern for child rights advocates in the Philippines. The nation was the starting point of the Global March Against Child Labor more than two decades ago, during which proponents marched throughout the globe in opposition to the issue, which has led to the universal ratification of ILO Convention 182.

Furthermore, the Philippines ranks first when it comes to the highest number of cases of OSAEC in the world, as stated by the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center, earlier this year.[1] This cybercrime has negatively impacted children’s rights to a healthy and safe environment.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) issued a Special Release on the Working Children Situation for 2019 to 2021, on March 3, 2023. The report indicates that of the 1.37 million working children, 935,000 were engaged in child labor, according to an article released by the Philippine News Agency.[2]

Since 2020, when Project ACE was implemented in Quezon City (QC) and Cagayan De Oro City (CDO), local and national government stakeholders have been empowered and supported in addressing WFCL, including OSAEC.

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In particular, the local government of QC recently launched a campaign called “Zero Child Labor in Quezon City” aiming to start a local movement towards the elimination of child labor among local chief executives. In CDO, barangay officials further champion child protection by working together to eliminate child labor beyond the project’s key areas.

Sec. Bienvenido Estudillo Laguesma, Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment’s message was delivered through Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Buenavidez who emphasized that “This three-day activity is an opportunity to learn more from each other in terms of implementation of various programs in the areas of enforcement, family and child victim care, convergence and collaboration, to address the worst forms of child labor (WFCL), online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), and unacceptable conditions of work.”

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Project ACE is being implemented in both the Philippines and Vietnam. The Vietnam government made significant changes when it comes to their fight against child labor through awareness-raising activities to increase knowledge within the community, capacity-building activities for Child Protection Committee members, community engagement activities, active partnerships, and a strengthened child protection system.

Aside from the Philippines and Vietnam, the event also featured presentations from other ASEAN Member States. Each country shared their experiences and best practices in eliminating child labor and OSAEC, acknowledging the long-lasting effects that it could have in a child.

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On the third day of the event, ways forward and impressions from the guests were the highlight. All member states present in the event affirm their commitment to stop child labor and promised to bring all of their learnings from the information sharing with them in their respective countries. With almost 200 participants from different countries in Asia, the sharing of experiences will be helpful for the key stakeholders for future programming.

With the support of the United States Department of Labor, World Vision’s Project ACE was launched to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine and Vietnam governments to address the WFCL, including OSAEC, and violation of ACW.

Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL 34007-19-75-K. 100 percent of the total costs of the project in the Philippines is financed with United States Department of Labor funds. 

Media Contact:

Pauline Giselle D. Navarro
Project ACE, Communications Officer



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