Japan, ILO help put up water system for South Upi school

John Unson - Philstar.com
Japan, ILO help put up water system for South Upi school
The water supply system project for school children in South Upi, Maguindanao was done with foreign assistance from Japan and the International Labor Organization.
The STAR, John Unson

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Foreign assistance has provided 1,600 children in a poor upland town with a water supply system, just after also helping 1,750 informal workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides the 1,600 pupils of the Timanan Central Elementary School, or TCES, dozens of poor families residing nearby also stand to benefit from the facility, jointly built by the Japanese government and the International Labor Organization.

Representatives from the Japanese government, the ILO and officials of the Ministry of Labor and Employment-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao turned over the water supply system to the TCES school administration and the local government unit of South Upi on Monday.

The foreign-assisted water system project took about 600 days to complete with the help of masons and carpenters as paid skilled workers.

Bangsamoro Labor Minister Romeo Sema said he is thankful to the Japanese government and ILO, which is an agency of the United Nations, for embarking on the project.

"This project augurs well with the efforts of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim to maximize the Bangsamoro government’s humanitarian initiatives," Sema said.

The water system for the TCES was a constructed under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project, according to Sema.

Japan, which supported the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that resulted in the creation in 2019 of the MILF-led Bangsamoro government, is a major benefactor, along with the ILO, of humanitarian projects in the reorganized region.

Emergency employment

The ILO had earlier provided the MOLE-BARMM with an P11.9-million grant for an emergency employment program for informal workers who went jobless due to the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions since March this year.

The joint MOLE-BARMM and ILO initiative, dubbed Community Emergency Employment Program, or CEEP,  was meant to cushion the impact of the pandemic to informal sector workers.

“It warms our heart that through this project, with the ILO, we provided decent work and improved living conditions to workers who have built the water system,” Economic Minister Masahiro Nakata of the Japanese embassy in Manila said in a statement Monday.

Arturo Maghanoy, president of the parents-teachers association of TCES, said lack of clean water at the school had been a serious challenge that the PTA has, for decades, struggled to address.

"We are very grateful to the government of Japan, to the ILO and the Bangsamoro labor ministry for this," Maghanoy told reporters.

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