PRDP-Bicol to release guidelines for consultations and Community, Occupational Safety and Health amidst COVID-19
PILI, CAMARINES SUR — “Ang premise natin lagi, ang priority natin is safety and health of our partner communities and our staff. We always think of each other’s safety so whatever action we do, we always have to think of others.” This was underscored by Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) National Project Coordination Office (NPCO) Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES) Specialist Maria Veronica Hernando during the NPCO-PSO-RPCO SES Unit Assessment and Coordination Meeting conducted virtually on August 4-6, 2020.
SES staff from the four project support offices and Regional Project Coordination Offices (RPCOs) including Bicol, headed by Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez attended the virtual meeting which highlighted the discussion of the enhanced consultation guidelines amidst COVID-19 public health crisis and the PRDP supplemental guidelines on Community Occupational Safety and Health (COSH).
Community assembly was considered as a form of mass gathering under the Resolution No. 38 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious diseases which is not allowed under Enhanced Community Quarantine, General Community Quarantine and even under the current Modified Community Quarantine status. However, stakeholder consultation is an integral part of the PRDP subproject planning and implementation process hence, it remains as a vital process and requirement. According to Hernando, this will guarantee that mechanisms installed for consultations will enable the partner communities, especially the disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals to air their feedback.
The enhanced consultation guidelines will adopt blended consultation mechanisms namely: consultation through online platforms, provision of letters or information, education and communication (IEC) materials, house-to-house consultation or dialogue, and public consultations through community assembly. The SES team developed a set of parameters to determine appropriate modality of consultation to use including level of health risks, types of concerns and issues to be tackled and/or which needs a decision from the community or household, capacity of the community and the households to meaningfully participate in consultation activities and inclusion of vulnerable groups or individuals.
In addition, the guidelines emphasized key principles in conducting consultations among Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities such as accountability to conduct consultations, cultural sensitivity, as well as mindfulness and respect of IP communities’ pace of decision making. Moreover, it mainstreamed the strengthening of PRDP’s GRM process considering the mobility restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the unit under PRDP’s Implementation Support (I-SUPPORT) component mandated to identify, prevent and mitigate harm to communities or people and the environment along subproject areas, the SES team also joined the virtual coordination meeting of the infrastructure development (I-BUILD) component to discuss the revised supplemental guidelines on COSH based on the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP) guidelines. The said guidelines primarily adopted and harmonized the issuances of various government agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). It accentuates practicing the minimum health protocols and standards set by the DOH in all I-BUILD and enterprise development (I-REAP) subprojects funded by the PRDP. It emphasized the adoption of mixed or blended methodologies in conducting relevant PRDP activities including consultations, trainings, technical coaching and validations.
It also recapitulated the DOLE Labor Guidelines on the cost of COVID-19 prevention and control measures issued per Labor Advisory No. 18 series of 2020, which states that “costs associated to COVID-19 measures shall be charged to the employers and principals of the service contract and no direct or indirect costs shall be charged to the workers.” For PRDP funded subprojects, principal of the service contract for I-BUILD subprojects refers to proponent local government units (LGUs) and enterprise proponent groups for I-REAP. Cost-sharing between LGU and winning contractor or between LGU and PG is also encouraged considering fund limitations of said parties. This is to ensure all subprojects’ compliance to the health protocols and standards necessary to resume operations of both I-BUILD and I-REAP subprojects.
At the same meeting, NPCO SES Unit Head Angelita Martir presented the safeguards findings and agreed actions during the 10th World Bank Implementation Support Mission (ISM). She also shared the World Bank’s positive feedback on the unit’s performance during the previous implementation support mission particularly on the approaches it adopted to navigate the COVID-19 health crisis. NPCO SES Officers Michael Francis Falconi and Reynan Dicen also discussed the enhanced monitoring checklist for I-REAP subprojects, supplemental monitoring checklist on COSH amidst COVID-19 pandemic for I-BUILD and I-REAP subprojects, and addendum to the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP), respectively. Moreover, Arnel Arreglado, PSO Mindanao SES Specialist, shared the digitalization of SES Compliance Checklist using the KoBo ToolBox, an innovative tool for primary data collection.
The SES unit maintained its Satisfactory rating during the recently concluded 10th World Bank ISM. Likewise, OIC-National Deputy Project Director Shandy Hubilla congratulated the team for being proactive in balancing both project compliances and everyone’s health and safety. He also reminded them to remain vigilant in order to control the spread of COVID-19.
“Along with I-BUILD and GGU, lookout natin ang isa’t isa. Make sure na safe talaga ang lahat whether nasa office lang tayo or nagfi-field,” Hubilla said.
The enhanced consultation guidelines amidst COVID-19 public health crisis and the PRDP supplemental guidelines on COSH will be disseminated to the LGUs and project partners this mid-August 2020. The Project issued initial guidelines on COSH on June 10, 2020. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)