440,000 lose jobs in aftermath of Central Visayas quake - ILO-PH

by Estrella Torres, BusinessMirror

Posted at Nov 05 2013 09:28 AM | Updated as of Nov 05 2013 05:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that around 440,000 workers were left jobless, most of them in the fishery sector following the 7.2-magnitude killer earthquake that rocked Central Visayas in the middle of last month.

The ILO-Philippines’s preliminary estimates showed that most of the displaced workers are in Bohol province, including 3,000 in Loon town, who depend on fishing as a main source of livelihood.

The killer quake has elevated and increased Loon’s shoreline with sulphur emissions, affecting seawater quality. The ILO also said sea grasses and mangroves are slowly drying up, resulting in reduced fish catch and income. More than 200 people perished in the October 15 temblor.

The earthquake has also cut off major roads and bridges. Travel to Loon from the main city now takes over three hours instead of the usual 30 minutes, adversely affecting people’s ability to access basic services and livelihood opportunities, the ILO said.

ILO Country Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson said the agency has already raised $220,000 to assist affected families in Bohol, as well as those displaced by the recent crisis in Zamboanga.

But he said the ILO “is now reaching out to its national and international partners” to sustain support to the quake-devastated communities.

Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez of Loon said there is a need for a convergence strategy to rebuild livelihood of communities first.

“When people are given the opportunity to earn money, you restore their dignity and hope to rebuild their broken lives and homes,” Lopez said.

The ILO statement on Monday said Lopez remains in a makeshift tent with other affected families after the earthquake damaged his house. At the same time, farmers and fishermen are still afraid to go back for fear of landslides and aftershocks.

“The ILO agrees with the government that after the crisis is an opportunity to build a better future for the victims, and to ensure that people are not left vulnerable or exploited afterward,” Johnson said.

The deadly earthquake also destroyed livelihoods and damaged houses, roads, bridges, schools, century-old churches and heritage sites.