ILO Director-General arrives in the Philippines, extends sympathies to typhoon survivors

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Mr Guy Ryder, arrives today in Manila for a two-day visit and extends his sympathies to those who lost their loved-ones a year ago in Washi (Sendong) and more recently by Typhoon Bopha (Pablo).

Press release | Manila, Philippines | 16 December 2012
The Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Mr Guy Ryder, arrives today in Manila for a two-day visit and extends his sympathies to those who lost their loved-ones a year ago in Washi (Sendong) and more recently by Typhoon Bopha (Pablo).

“My deepest condolences and sympathies go to those who lost their loved-ones in Tropical Storm Washi a year ago, and also to those affected more recently by Typhoon Bopha,” said Mr Ryder. “Such natural disasters affect lives as well as livelihoods. The effect of losing your loved-one, your home, and your income at the same time is unimaginable.”

Typhoon Bopha has affected many parts of the Southern Philippines , and is the strongest to hit the areas in decades. Thousands of properties and livelihoods were damaged. Agriculture and agriculture industries, service sectors and infrastructures are critical areas for livelihood recovery.

An estimated 2.3 million workers have been directly affected as of 14 December 2012. These are mostly women; youth aged 15-24; and vulnerable or unpaid family workers with limited income and social security.

The majority of affected workers were in Davao Region, where the impact has taken toll on the livelihoods of 767,000 agricultural and fishery workers. The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates damages to agricultural sector at P11.56 billion and 10.37 billion for agricultural commodities as of 11 December.

“Urgent action is needed to rebuild communities and livelihoods. Workers in vulnerable forms of employment, farmers and indigenous peoples are even more at risk than most to such disasters, and are often forced to accept any kind of work just to survive,” said Mr Ryder.

The ILO has mobilized its initial resources amounting to USD 50,000. The ILO has also sought the assistance of its development partners related to culture-sensitive disaster response for indigenous peoples, local resource-based employment generation and establishment of community-based organizations for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of local infrastructures.

The ILO co-convenes the Livelihood Cluster with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment. The Livelihood Cluster involves national government and local government, employers and workers organization, non-government organizations, development partners, the United Nations and its sister agencies. Through the Livelihood Cluster, clearing and cleaning of surroundings of the tons of mud and debris are being done in affected areas by way of cash-for-work and emergency employment.

Strategies for sustainable livelihoods are vital, with social protection, climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness as key elements. The Livelihood Cluster has responded to help assess damages and losses on livelihoods and to coordinate efforts related to employment and livelihoods after Typhoon Bopha.

“Decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods not only help people regain their self-esteem and their lives but also support the nation in rebuilding and moving ahead,” said Mr Ryder.

The ILO experience in post-calamity areas such as in Washi (Sendong) further led to the development of short-term cash-for-work towards longer-term employment and livelihood recovery through decent work. The initiative was implemented with the support of the Australian AID, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment and the local governments of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

Survivors were first part of the cash-for-work and emergency employment by clearing and cleaning tons of mud. Afterwards, they were involved in skills training and hands-on site mentoring on construction. Moreover, survivors trained on construction received starter kits such as hammers and saws with safety gears. With the transfer of skills, they are now earning more and rebuilding their communities.

Mr Ryder’s two-day visit is his first to the Philippines since he was elected as the 10th ILO Director-General on 1 October 2012. The last visit of an ILO Director-General to the Philippines was in February 1995.

During his visit, Mr Ryder will hold talks with President Benigno S. Aquino III. He is scheduled to meet with Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and representatives of employers and workers organizations and Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, the President of the Asian Development Bank.

For further information please contact:

Ms Minette Rimando
ILO Country Office for the Philippines
Tel: +63 2 580 9900 / 580 9905

Ms Sophy Fisher
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +662 (0) 2288 2482