230,000 OFWS seeking to avail of DOLE's "Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong" program

Published April 26, 2020, 10:36 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Leslie Ann Aquino

Over 230,000 overseas Filipino workers affected by the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are seeking to avail of the Department of Labor and Employment’s “Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong” program.

The DOLE said as of April 24, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLOs) and the local offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) already received 233,015 requests for assistance under the Covid Adjustment Measures Program – AKAP emergency fund that provides a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid to qualified OFWs.

Of the total number of requests, the Labor department said 118,134 were received by POLOs from workers onsite while the remainder were submitted by repatriated OFWs to OWWA and DOLE regional offices in the country.

Due to the big number of OFWs seeking assistance, the DOLE said it is now eyeing to request for supplemental budget to be able to provide more OFWs with the needed emergency assistance.

The DOLE has a budget only of P1.5 billion for AKAP OFW assistance sourced from the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

With the said limited budget, only 150,000 OFWs can be accomodated under the assistance program.

According to DOLE, 49,040 OFWs are already set to receive the cash aid after having met the requirements.

“They were processed within 10 working days since the release of the AKAP funds on April 9,” said DOLE in a statement.

“Those eligible come equally from both land and sea-based workers,” it added.

Of those already getting the cash aid, DOLE said close to 34,000 are onsite OFWs or those still staying in host countries despite the lockdowns, while more than 15,000 have already been repatriated or those returning OFWs unable to depart to their country of destination.

DOLE also reported that OWWA and the POLOs had assisted 36,385 repatriated OFWs since the onset of the health crisis.