MANILA- In a radio interview last May 2, 2007, Team Unity Senatorial Bet Cesar Montano expressed his sentiments against child labor which has become rampant in the Philippines. Asked of the effect that child labor brings to a child, Montano said, “Child Labor steals the childhood from a child, which is a vital part of growing up. It also brings the child away from education, which can have adverse effects on his future”, he remarked. Lastly, he said that child labor exposes a child to hazardous environments like mines, quarries and even ‘whore houses’ which may either directly take his or her life or take his or her future. He said that his movie Muro Ami opened his eyes on this issue.
“The ties within a Filipino family is so strong that even children do work to help fight their state of poverty and ease their parents of workload”, Montano added, saying that poverty and culture are to blame for child labor. He also said that in a poor country like the Philippines, a child working for the sake of the family is considered ‘normal and acceptable’, but expressed the need to change such a perception.
If elected in the Senate, Montano said that he will no longer tamper with the existing laws on child labor, Republic Act 7610 and RA 7658, since he deems that the two are already sufficient. “It is up to the executive departments to implement those laws properly”, he added.
He said he would rather attack what he believes is the source of child labor- poverty. “If elected in the Senate, I will attack the reasons for child labor. I will help alleviate poverty and hasten industry development by crating new laws or putting more money in their budget”, Montano said. He argued that if the parents work in a stable, well-paying job, then the children no longer have to work. They can focus on the things where they should- play and studying.
Another thing he said he can do is to perform strict scrutiny on the offices in the executive tasked to handle the problem. He said that check and balance over the executive branch is part of the job of a senator, thus he will make sure that the programs against child labor are within their agenda. Montano also said that he will make sure that there is a good system in implementing the law, especially in the local level, to make sure that the programs are well implemented.
In 2001, there are about four (4) million child laborers aged five (5) to 17 in the Philippines, 60% or 2.4 million of which work in hazardous environments.