Due to the increasing number of on-site and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) requesting for assistance, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking an additional P2.5 billion to finance its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) cash assistance program.
“The fund released to us is fast depleting. So far, our offices approved the requests of 224,756 OFWs, 128,348 of whom are still locked down or stranded in their countries of work,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement on Sunday, July 5.
According to DOLE, as of July 4, their overseas offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) recorded a total of 551,606 aid applications from both land-based and sea-based workers who are either still in host countries or have returned to the Philippines.
With additional funding, Bello said, AKAP will be able to extend emergency assistance to close to half a million OFWs.
“That would be a big thing if we could help more people,” he said.
Bello said he is optimistic President Rodrigo Duterte will grant the additional AKAP funding. “Our OFWs are very dear to our President. If it is for our OFWs, he gives the help right away.”
DOLE was already given P2.5 billion in two tranches to finance the AKAP program, which is a one-time emergency cash aid of $200 or P10,000 to help OFWs displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DOLE said of the total beneficiaries, 188,473 already received the cash aid amounting to P1.927 billion.
It added that about 56,283 OFWs of the total number of approved requests have yet to receive their assistance.