Message by the Ministry of Labor and Employment at the handover of the water system built under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project

By Minister Romeo Sema of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the handover of the water system built under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project, 9 November 2020 Manila and Maguindanao, Philippines via Zoom

Honourable Masahiro Nakata
Economic Minister of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines

Director Khalid Hassan
Country Director- International Labour Organization – Country Office-Manila

Honourable Mayor Reynalbert O. Insular
South Upi, Maguindanao

Guests, ladies and gentlemen

To live with dignity, a safe and clean water must be accessible to everyone. It is our right. And, in this time of pandemic, this is very important.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment congratulates the partnership of the Local Government of South Upi and the Parent Teachers Association of Timanan Central Elementary School for the successful completion of this project despite the challenges of COVID 19.

We know this is not easy. Yet, you continue to persevere and finish the construction with a goal to benefit the 1,600 schoolchildren and around 100 households in Timanan.

We are thankful as well that through this project, you were able to help 65 vulnerable community members by providing them income and ensured that they are protected and resilient while working through provision of social protection benefits and paying them wage not lower than what is required by the law.

It is worth noting that you have respected our environment and the vulnerable groups that will be impacted by the construction works. Lastly, we salute you for not closing the doors to female workers and persons with disabilities. In a conflict-sensitive region such as BARMM where almost 60 per cent are poor and further aggravated by this pandemic, this intervention is timely and commendable.

MOLE has been a witness and played an active role as well in the ILO-Japan Water Project. We have assisted the prompt registration of our community contractor, the PTA, and served as resource persons on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) onsite. Our leadership in the Project Advisory and Review Committee as the steering committee is a formidable task. But, it is a fulfilling role that we commit and continuously embrace. For a region where more than 50 per cent of its people have no access to safe water, we need to be one and work in solidarity with one another.

Projects such as this ILO-Japan Water Project is extremely relevant as the region is working towards achieving lasting peace and development while facing the challenges of COVID-19 and other calamities. Difficult times, indeed, and I wish this project could be extended to more disadvantaged communities in the region so that more Bangsamoros will enjoy better access to safe water and employment during this time of pandemic.

Under the ILO-Japan Project, the MOLE has also further collaborated with the ILO and with funding support from Japan to implement the Community Emergency Employment Programme (CEEP) to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the informal sector in the region. 1750 informal workers in mainland BARMM will benefit from this project. On top of wages, they will be provided social protection and OSH protocols will be implemented to ensure their safety and health. Each of the 70 sites will also be provided handwashing facilities.

Finally, allow us thank the People of Japan for their untiring support in the construction of water system facilities in BARMM. Our heart is filled with gratitude because their role is important. They are filling a huge gap that will better the lives of the people in BARRM. Water is life. And through the ILO-Japan Project, we all make lives more dignified.

Thank you!