By Leslie Ann Aquino
Ship workers are the ones hardest hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic among overseas Filipino workers, according to OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
In a virtual press briefing, Cacdac said around 20,000 have returned to the country after the cessation of cruise ship operations.
“So we can really see the bleak outlook in the cruise ship industry as they are the hardest hit,” he said.
Cacdac said other industries also adversely affected by the pandemic are the hospitality, hotel, restaurant, and retail sectors.
He said the construction industry is also affected although there is no massive return of construction workers yet.
“Let’s hope they still get to keep their jobs (after the crisis),” said Cacdac.
Meanwhile, OWWA said a total of 169,960 repatriated or stranded OFWs have applied for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) cash assistance program.
The agency said 73,096 of those who applied are land-based workers while 96,864 are sea-based.
Of the more than 160,000 application received, a total of 51,889 OFWs have been approved to receive the one-time P10,000 or $200 cash assistance.
The DOLE 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 USD200, or the equivalent amount in their host countries, under the AKAP program.
The program seeks to assist about 150,000 OFWs on-site or in host countries affected by lockdowns and those in the Philippines who are unable to return to their destinations.