COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro government and the International Labour Organization are to assist 1,750 informal sector workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bangsamoro Labor Minister Romeo Sema said Monday the joint initiative, dubbed Community Emergency Employment Program, or CEEP, is meant to mitigate the impact of the pandemic to informal sector workers.
The ILO shall allocate P11.9 million for the CEEP as stated in a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Labor and Employment-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that representatives of both sides forged last week.
“We are grateful, so thankful for ILO’s support for our displaced informal sector workers now so affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” Sema said.
He said the CEEP shall complement the efforts of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim to ease the plight of the local labor sector now suffering from the effects of the government’s COVID-19 containment regulations.
The government of Japan, through ILO, is a key benefactor the CEEP.
The program shall generate informal employment for 1,750 workers in Cotabato City, in Maguindanao, in Lanao del Sur and in the 63 barangays in North Cotabato whose residents voted for the inclusion of their communities into the Bangsamoro region during a plebiscite in 2019.
The ILO, which started operating in 1919 under the then League of Nations, is a United Nations agency focused on promoting employment and economic justice through international labor standards.
The highly infectious COVID-19 disease “has greatly affected the world of work,” the ILO said in a recent statement.
Stringent anti-pandemic quarantine measures have affected 1.6 billion informal economy workers across the globe, the statement cited.
The country’s unemployment rate rose to an all-time high of 17.7 percent, affecting 7.3 million people, in April 2020.
The Bangsamoro region, covering Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, recorded the highest unemployment rate at 29.8 percent, according to statistics obtained from Philippine government agencies and international outfits.
“The BARMM government will help address this problem with the help of the ILO,” Sema said. (JOHN FELIX UNSON, October 12, 2020)