By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) planning to avail of the Department of Labor and Employment’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (DOLE-AKAP) program were reminded by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) that the application form is for free.
“We remind everyone that the said downloadable application form is for free,” read an advisory from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Bahrain, which was posted by OWWA in their Facebook page.
“It is prohibited to sell the forms or earn money from [them]. Anyone caught violating this will be held accountable under the law,” it further read.
On April 13, OWWA started accepting applications for financial assistance online for repatriated or returning OFWs.
“As we observe stringent social distancing measures, all submissions of applications for ‘DOLE-AKAP for OFWs’ are to be done through [sic] online,” it said.
The Labor department earlier 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 $200, or the equivalent amount in the currency of their host countries, under the AKAP program.
According to DOLE, the program will cover regular or documented OFWs as defined in the 2016 Revised Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) rules and regulations.
The assistance program also covers qualified undocumented OFWs, or those who were originally regular or documented workers but for some reason have lost their regular or documented status.
Also included in the program, DOLE said, are those who are not registered with the POEA, or whose contracts were not processed by POEA or the POLO, but have undertaken actions to regularize their contracts or status; or those who are not registered with the POEA or whose contracts were not processed by POEA or the POLO, but are active OWWA members at the time of application.
Even Balik-Manggagawa who are unable to return to their host countries because of COVID-19 lockdowns are also entitled to receive the assistance, said DOLE.
The Labor department said OFWs who have experienced job displacement due to the receiving country’s imposition of lockdown or community quarantine, or having been infected by the disease will receive the cash assistance, as well.
On-site OFWs must visit the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in their host country to apply for the program.