By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already dispensed P81 million cash aid to overseas Filipino workers affected by the travel ban imposed by the Philippine government due to the threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a statement, OWWA said as of February 20, it already released P81,060,000 to 8,106 OFWs who were affected by the temporary travel ban to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
The cash assistance given to each stranded OFW which amounted to P10,000 was drawn from the OWWA Trust Fund of member-OFWs.
The distribution of cash assistance commenced on February 3 for China, Hong Kong and Macau-bound OFWs; and, February 13 for OFWs going to Taiwan.
The assistance aims to “help stranded OFWs ease their burden and assist them back to their places of origin” during the travel ban.
OWWA said of their 17 regional offices, OWWA-National Capital Region expended the largest amount with P36.87M given to 3,687 OFWs followed by OWWA-Region 1 (P7.16M for 716 OFWs), Region 6 (P6.82M given to 682 OFWs), Region 3 (P6.67M for 667 OFWs), Region 2 (P4.74M for 474 OFWs), CAR (P3.74M for 374 OFWs), Region 4A-A (P3.71M for 371 OFWs), Region 7 (P3.04M for 304 OFWs), Region XI (P2.55M for 255 OFWs), Region 5 (P1.27M for 127 OFWs), Region 12 (P1.11M for 111 OFWs), Region 10 (P1.05M for 105 OFWs), Region 8 (P760K for 76 OFWs), CARAGA (P650K for 65 OFWs), Region 4B (P440K for 44 OFWs), and Region 9 (P430K for 43 OFWs).
OWWA-ARMM, on the other hand, has the least number of claimants, releasing P50,000 to five OFWs.
The travel ban to Taiwan was lifted on February 15. OFWs bound for Hong Kong and Macau were also given the go-signal to fly to these cities.
With the said development, the OWWA management instructed its regional offices to cease processing of application for cash assistance of Hong Kong- and Macau-bound OFWs beginning February 20.