Message at the handover of the water system built in Rifao under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the handover of the water system built in Rifao under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project, 22 June 2021, Maguindanao, Philippines

Statement | Rifao, Upi, Maguindanao Philippines | 22 June 2021
  • Senior Minister and concurrent MENRE Minister Abdulraof Macacua
  • Minister Romeo K. Sema of MOLE and Chair of the ILO-Japan Project Advisory and Review Committee,
  • Minister Melanio Ulama of MIPA-BARMM
  • Mayor Ramon Piang Sr. of North Upi, Maguindanao
  • Chargé d'Affaires Nakata Masahiro of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines,
  • Mr Ronnie Alagan, President of Rifao Spring Development Project Association
  • Executive Director Windel Diangcalan of BDA
  • Workers, indigenous leaders and partners from the community,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga!
Warm greetings as we hand-over today the water system built in partnership with indigenous peoples and the local community.

The ancestral lands are lifelines of indigenous peoples for within it are vast resources and spiritual connection that sustain their families and communities.

ILO promotes the rights of the indigenous peoples through the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, also known as ILO Convention 169. It aims to overcome discriminatory practices and enables indigenous men and women to participate in decision-making that affects their lives.

With the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic to the livelihoods and income of the indigenous peoples, it is highly important to consult and engage them on building a better normal that respects their rights and ensures access to decent work.

Indigenous peoples can also benefit through coordination among all relevant government entities to address their rights and needs effectively. Without decent work and social protection, they are three times more likely to live in extreme poverty.

In Barangay Rifao, where 100 per cent of the population are Tedurays, access to clean and safe water, as a human right, remains a big challenge. Natural springs abound but they are too far to reach every household and schools.

It is for this purpose that the ILO Japan Water and Sanitation Project partnered with the indigenous community. It aims to bring safe and clean water closer to almost 480 family members in 80 households and 435 schoolchildren.

The two intake boxes, one reservoir and eight constructed tap stands will replace the contaminated dug-wells and unsafe rain water as primary sources for drinking and household needs.

It is indeed fulfilling that we contributed to the well-being and dignified life for hundreds of people, including indigenous communities reached through this project. Challenges remain with the need to support vulnerable groups including families, women and children without access to safe and clean water in the Bangsamoro region.

Together, let us celebrate the completion of the Level II Water System in Barangay Rifao. We are proud to know that workers were safe throughout the construction with proper implementation of Occupational Safety and Health protocols. Complete personal protective equipment, appropriate working tools were provided. Workers received wages and social protection benefits.

Though it was a challenge to involve women in construction, they have greatly contributed with the administrative support given to project. The basic minimum wage with guidance from Ministry of Labor and Employment was strictly followed as a key element to provide decent work.

In this project, green works and protection to biodiversity were also manifested in engineering designs and compliance to environmental safeguards. This is in response to the call to preserve and protect our environment – the very source of life that will also bring continuous flow of water to the community.

More importantly, the ILO would like to acknowledge the supervision of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) as the Implementing Partner and the Rifao Spring Development Project Association as the community-contractor together with its 131 indigenous peoples members.

Active participation in community planning, continuous learning and finding solutions to challenges along the project implementation is truly commendable.

Building a water system is technical, but learning and coming out strong from every problem during the implementation is indeed admirable.

The barangay and municipal local government were also instrumental for the success of the project as well as the guidance of the BARMM government through the leadership of MOLE Minister Sema.

Finally, we thank the People of Japan for investing towards a human-centred recovery through decent work, with social justice, human dignity and equity at the core of achieving lasting peace in the Bangsamoro region.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!