Opening address at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ILO and the Bangsamoro Development Agency for the Programme for Local Economic Development through Enhanced Governance and Grassroots Empowerment (PLEDGE)

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at signing of the memorandum of understanding between the ILO and the Bangsamoro Development Agency for the Programme for Local Economic Development through Enhanced Governance and Grassroots Empowerment (PLEDGE), Cotabato City, Philippines, 19 June 2013

Statement | Cotabato City, Philippines | 19 June 2013
  • Mr Yacob together with officials of the Bangsamoro Development Agency
  • Officials from the World Bank and the European Union
  • Partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Colleagues from the UN,
  • Members of the press,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, maayong hapon!

Today’s event marks the beginning of a partnership aimed at supporting the peace process in Mindanao through local economic development, decent work and sustainable livelihoods.

In executing the agreement, the ILO is furthering its commitment to peace and development in Mindanao through skills and enterprise development and job creation towards sustainable and inclusive growth in the Philippines. This agreement will lead to the full implementation a region-wide programme known as PLEDGE in ARMM.

I have worked in conflict and post-conflict areas like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia. People mostly from poor communities and vulnerable groups often bear the impact.

In 2011, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had the highest rate of vulnerable employment at 84 per cent of those employed or approximately one million people. The magnitude of poor people in the region reached nearly 1.4 million in 2009, with more than 218,000 families living in poverty.

This is of great concern, as people are forced to accept whatever work is available in order to survive. They cannot lift themselves and their families out of poverty given their limited income, lack of access to social protection and social security. They are often found in dangerous and poor working conditions.

The BDA deserves credit for its efforts to secure resources for this project to that will help improve the lives of people in this region, especially those in poverty and vulnerable forms of employment.

We recognise as well the contributions of our partners and donors. PLEDGE is funded through the Mindanao Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. Major contributors to the fund include the World Bank, the Governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, USA and the European Union.

PLEDGE is part of the overall convergence approach in Mindanao and the ILO’s support to the Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Labor and Employment Plan’s goal of inclusive and sustainable growth through decent and productive work.

As a pilot project, we hope that this will allow us to set the stage for a much broader intervention in Mindanao in collaboration with the BDA.

The next step now is for the BDA and the ILO to enter into a 3-4 month inception phase. During this time we will identify high potential communities and value chains for intensive support. We will assess which BDA Regional Offices will be involved in programme delivery as well as determine how best to support the BDA in enhancing its capacity.

Given the importance of dialogue and partnership, a Programme Coordinating Committee will form part of the PLEDGE governance structure, which will be chaired by the BDA and co-chaired by the ILO. The committee is comprised of:
  • donors representative,
  • Mayors of municipalities to be covered by the project,
  • local governments,
  • Chamber and Social Fund of ARMM,
  • OPAPP as part of the Mindanao Trust Fund,
  • the Mindanao Business Council,
  • businesses and workers associations.

The project will also establish a Technical Working Group and other committees as required.

After this period, the PLEDGE will be formally launched in August. During the implementation phase entrepreneurs will be trained, businesses will be supported and communities will be enhanced.

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome the BDA as our partner and to wish you every success with the PLEDGE.

Thank you and Mabuhay!