"The Department of Labor and Employment, or DOLE, sees the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TPVRA) List of Goods Produced with Child Labor or Forced Labor more as a challenge than as a judgment of its work towards the elimination of child labor, especially the worst forms.
"It is the avowed policy of the government to say 'No to Child Labor' and this policy is being effectively implemented by all agencies of the government, particularly by the DOLE.
"This policy emanates from the Constitution, which explicitly mandates the State to provide special protection to children against all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, and discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development.
"We have been briefed by the US Embassy on the Report and we were told that the listing of any particular good and country does not indicate that all production of the good in that country involves forced labor or child labor, but rather there is a significant incidence of forced labor or child labor in the production of the good.
"We do not conform to the criteria that the US DOL used in evaluating information and making decisions on the TVPRA list. We have our own processes, methodologies, and standards in evaluating the issue of child labor in our country, and this is vastly different from the criteria of the US DOL.
"Still, we would like to inform the Filipino people that we have a Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) in place which represents the concerted efforts of government, the private sector (employers' groups and workers' organizations), international welfare and social development institutions and non-governmental organizations.
"While we acknowledge the existence of child labor in the Philippines, we emphasize that our efforts to address the problem has already gone down the barangay or community level.
"The DOLE leads a network of mutually enabling social partners in working towards the prevention and progressive elimination of child labor through prevention, protection, removal, healing and reintegration of child workers into society.
"It also led in the formulation of the PPACL Strategic Framework for 2007-2015. The vision of this framework is a Child Labor-Free Philippines.
"We have a law enacted in 2003, R. A. 9231 providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and giving protection to working children.
"We are also implementing R. A. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
"We are a signatory to ILO Conventions 138 & 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
"These policies are backed-up by programs of the Department, such as the Sagip-Batang Manggagawa, Eliminating Child Labor in the Tobacco Industry, and Project Angel Tree, to name a few. We are even helping parents of child laborers, through the KaSaMa Project.
"As to the US DOL's inclusion of some goods allegedly produced by child labor in the Philippines, it may take the DOLE some time to validate this assertion, but we have instructed our regional officers to discuss the report with the industry sectors mentioned with the end in view of getting their concerns so that the Department can work out specific interventions to address these."