By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it will start processing aid for overseas Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Duterte approved the release of P1.5 billion to DOLE for financial support to overseas workers displaced by the pandemic.
He said overseas workers, both land-based and sea-based, who have been displaced by a lockdown in a foreign country will be given a one-time financial assistance amounting to P10,000 or USD200, or the equivalent amount in their host countries, under the DOLE’s “Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong” (AKAP) program for OFWs.
“This assistance program is good until the available funds are used up,” Bello said in a statement.
The DOLE-AKAP will cover not only documented workers but also undocumented ones as long as they have undertaken actions toward regularization or they are active members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Bello said.
Bello said the aid program will include OFWs infected by the virus provided that they have not received any form of financial assistance from their host government or foreign employer, and those displaced by a COVID-19 lockdown imposed by the governments in their places of work.
DOLE said to avail of the program “on-site” OFWs must submit the following documents to their respective Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs): accomplished application form for the special cash assistance which is downloadable at their respective POLO website or social media account; photocopy of their passport and/or travel documents; proof of overseas employment, such as a valid OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate), residence ID, visa, reentry-visa; proof of loss of employment on account of the COVID-19 disease; and proof of a pending case that have caused their current undocumented status, such as case reference number, case endorsement stamped by the POLO.
‘Balik Manggagawa’ or repatriated OFWs, on the other hand, must submit the following documents to their respective regional or local OWWA offices: accomplished application form for special cash assistance downloadable at www.dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph website; copy of passport or travel documents; proof of overseas employment, such as valid OEC, residence ID, visa/re-entry visa, and proof of loss of employment due to the COVID-19 disease.
Bello said OWWA and the POLOs will start the processing and evaluation of the qualified DOLE-AKAP recipients, especially in countries heavily affected by the pandemic, such as those in the Middle East and Africa (Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate) Europe and the Americas (Canada, Cyprus, Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S.) and Asia (Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand).