Message at the graduation ceremony, shelter construction and skills training project - Tacloban City Government, Eastern Visayas State University, Operations Compassion and ILO

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the graduation ceremony, shelter construction and skills training project, Tacloban City, Philippines, 8 November 2014

Statement | Tacloban City, Philippines | 07 November 2014
  • Dr Aguirre, President of the Eastern Visayas State University,
  • Mr Ferrer of Operations Compassion,
  • Trainers and instructors,
  • Graduates of the Shelter Construction and Skills Training
  • Members of the press
  • Students,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, maupay nga aga (good morning)!
I was in Tacloban immediately following Yolanda to assess the situation on the ground. It’s heart wrenching to witness thousands of lives lost and millions of livelihoods damaged by the super typhoon.

The scale of devastation was unimaginable. ILO estimates almost 6 million workers were affected and 2.6 million of them were in vulnerable employment.

Many of them were forced to accept or create whatever work was available in order just to survive and trying to lift themselves from poverty even before the super typhoon  took everything away.

The Philippines, with a population of more than 100 million, is the third most at risk nation in the world for natural disasters, behind only Tonga with an estimated population of 105,000 and Vanuatu with about 257,000.

The ILO team immediately hit the ground to support the government in placing decent work and sustainable livelihoods at the forefront of recovery.

Together with our sister agencies and partners in the Humanitarian Country Team, we help communities to build back better and to achieve their desire to be placed on a sustainable path to recovery and development.

People affected by Yolanda have been through much pain and trauma – and we can’t allow them to fall as victims of another tragedy or risk their health or even their lives in rebuilding their communities.

Emergency employment programmes guarantee minimum wage, social security coverage as well as health and accident insurance.

Personal protective equipment are also provided such as masks, hats, gloves, boots and protective clothing to ensure safety on the job.

With the support of the Governments of Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom as well as the International Maritime Employers Council, we were able to reach out to most affected communities in Coron, Northern Cebu, Ormoc, and Tacloban.

Today’s graduation is among the many initiatives on the ground as we transitioned to medium to long term strategy, with decent work and sustainable livelihoods at the heart of recovery.

Let me congratulate the 50 graduates who have successfully completed the intensive shelter skills training course and helped in the construction of 70 transitional shelters.

With your acquired skills and established networks, you can help in building better, safer and stronger communities.

The challenge now is what you can do to help Tacloban and the Philippines build back better.

Despite the super typhoon and the disasters that hit the country, I have seen that the Filipino spirit lives on.

I truly believe that the same Filipino spirit is here and I thank each one of you for your support to ensure that decent work and sustainable livelihoods are at the forefront of recovery after Yolanda.

Damo nga salamat
(Thank you very much)!