06/17/2013, 00.00
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"Child labor is a scourge to be fought," the appeal of a Filipino bishop

Over 5 million children between 5 and 17 years are employed to work inhuman hours. Appeal of a bishop: "We need more targeted social policies, to counter the irresponsibility of parents and poverty."

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A bishop of the province of Samar, eastern Philippines, is calling on people to fight child exploitation. According to the latest research from the National Institute of Statistics, there are about 5.5 million children working underpaid in the country.

Bishop Crispin Varquez said, Friday, June 13, that "the irresponsibility of parents, together with the great poverty of the Philippines, are among the major causes of child exploitation in the country." He added that "the problem should be a priority on Manila's domestic agenda." According to the 52 year old Bishop of Borongan, as long as the government does not form a real social policy aimed at improving the living conditions of the people, this aspect will remain a "deep wound".

Fr. Conegundo Garganta, of the Episcopal Commission of the Philippines, has echoed  Msgr. Varquez's concerns, declaring that "the local Catholic community hopes that the authorities will promote an effective program of recovery."

The latest statistics reveal that in the country about 5 and a half million children between 5 and 17 years are victims of exploitation. In spite of the many promises made by the government, the figure is nearly a million and a half higher than that reported in 2009. Young people, mainly used in mines, on fishing vessels or in private homes, often work up to 15 hours a day.


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