The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) issued a stern warning against firecracker factories using children as workers in their operations, stating that the operators and handlers of these shops will be dealt with the full force of the law.
IACAT also urged local government units, down to the barangay level, to adopt measures to make sure that no children will be exploited as laborers in the hazardous manufacturing of firecrackers, which poses grave danger from accidents and also exposes workers to health problems.
Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, Chairperson of IACAT, emphasized the role of the local government units in monitoring these incidents of child labor especially in small shed operations that springs up in bunches when the holiday season approaches.
According to a recent report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), one hundred sixty eight million (168M) children aged 5-17 years were involved in child labor as of 2012. This is about one-tenth of the total child population in the world. Out of that figure, 85.3 million children (55M for boys while 30.3M for girls) are subjected to hazardous work.
Hazardous work is defined as any activity or occupation that, by its nature or type, has or leads to adverse effects on the child's safety, health and moral development. It is a subcategory of child labor.
"Everyone must understand that the young children subjected to the manufacturing of these pyrotechnics are not aware of the risks that they are being exposed to, and their parents who allow or even push them to work do not know any better," De Lima said.
There have been explosions in fireworks factories as early as April this year, leaving one dead and two injured.
"It is the responsibility of the government, both national and local, to protect our youth from this danger of being exposed to hazardous child labor," De Lima added.