• ILO hopes for govt’s continued response

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    MANY things have been done to help the survivors of the catastrophic Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) get back on their feet.

    Some organizations that responded to the onslaught have already ended their humanitarian work and are now in the process of reporting their nearly two-year work.

    The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently announced the results of their Decent Work program, which provided help for 33,000 survivors to rebuild their homes and livelihoods across four affected regions – 4-B (Palawan), 6 (Negros Occidental), 7 (Cebu, Bohol) and 8 (Leyte).

    Two months after the typhoon struck, the ILO made an emergency employment programs in areas that were hardest hit by Yolanda. Rapid assessments of damage and job losses were made even as clearance and cleaning works begun, and labor-based rehabilitation of community assets, infrastructure and the environment were put in motion.

    “Providing safe and decent working conditions and extending social protection coverage are not options. These are both labor rights and human rights, which help prevent people from falling into the poverty trap and support sustainable inclusive growth,” said Jonathan Price, chief technical advisor for ILO.

    While the ILO, as well as many other international organizations, has already completed their projects, they believe that there are still many concerns that need to be addressed so the people will never get back in vulnerable types of employment, which had been a problem even before the typhoon.

    “We are conscious that now that much of the international aid is completing and still finishing, we are aware that there might be kind of tendency to go back to old practices,” Price said.

    ILO consultant Sef Carandang, who personally went to the areas, attests that the international organizations have already done a massive effort to rebuild and even change the lives of the survivors.

    The efforts were realized through the $11.5-million worth of funding assistance of Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan government, UK Department for International Development (DFID), and International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC).

    Carandang believes, though, that the Philippine government could have done more than what the foreign community did and it is now their job to continue the efforts. She noted that “a lot of international funds went to the government and it’s not apparent how they utilized it.”

    “Even without disaster, the NGOs are working to help the Filipinos. Why? Because the government is not doing its job,” she said. “The NGOs are doing what the government should do. The government owes the people so much. They have a lot of money but they’re not using it.”

    Simon Hills, ILO officer-in-charge and employment and livelihood development officer, fears that life in the typhoon-hit areas would go back to pre-“Yolanda” situation where people were “exploited” and they were not given decent work or provided with social benefits.

    He appealed, “We understand our collective need to support the country as a way of achieving disaster resilience. This is a necessity and not just a moral obligation.”

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