Friday, January 10, 2014

Leyte groups: Engage people in Yolanda rehab

January 10, 2014

Informal workers associations in Leyte are asking the government to engage with people’s organizations in the planning and implementation of the Yolanda rehabilitation in the face of allegations of overpriced and substandard bunkhouses.

“Aside from the opinions of experts, the participation of the people themselves is vital in the success of the Yolanda rehab plan. Yolanda survivors should not just be passive recipients of aid but active stakeholders in the reconstruction process. We demand transparency and people’s participation,” asserted Judy Torres, chair of the Tacloban City tricycle federation and coordinator of Partido ng Manggagawa in Region 8.

Last December 30, Torres’ group held a motorcade around Tacloban of a hundred tricycles which were garbed in tarp posters with the message “Make jobs a priority in Yolanda rehab.” The motorcade signalled the launch of the campaign for decent employment, social protection and people’s participation as pillars of Yolanda rehabilitation plan. A representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO) observed and documented the campaign launch.

Torres averred that “People’s organizations can also serve as watchdogs against graft and corruption in the rehab process. Even more than the problem of temporary shelter, the input of the people is crucial in the issue of permanent housing. We insist on in-city relocation and climate-resilient socialized housing program for informal settlers.

Some of the controversial bunkhouses are being built near Torres’ home and he does not believe they can cost almost a million each. He also attests to the fact that the contractors are not locals and even the laborers came from Mindanao.

He added that “Every cent of the USD 8.17 billion Reconstruction Assistance of Yolanda must be spent to meet the immediate and long-term needs of survivors. We also ask that locals be employed as workers with decent jobs as a guideline.”

The Tacloban tricycle federation together with drivers associations in Hilongos and Baybay, Leyte have issued a manifesto calling for decent employment to be a priority in the rehab plan. The demand echoes an ILO report that stated that more need to be done to provide decent work in the Yolanda affected areas that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection.

“Decent jobs are a necessity since it is a guarantee to a person’s long-term security and a life of dignity” Torres argued.

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