Over 136,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been transported to their provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) reported Wednesday.
The return to the provinces of OFWs is part of the Labor department’s continuing efforts to assist migrant workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the latest batch of 2,667 OFWs who were cleared of coronavirus were sent home on Aug. 11.
The Labor department said this brings to 136,509 the number of OFWs who were provided with a package of assistance since they started transporting OFWs en masse in May after COVID tests and quarantine.
Among the assistance being provided to OFWs by DoLE and other government agencies upon their arrival in the country are accommodation, food, transportation, and COVID testing.
DoLE has been extending a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs affected by the pandemic, both on-site and those stranded in the country.
On Monday, Bello revealed President Duterte’s approval of additional P5 billion intended for pandemic-affected OFWs.
The Labor chief said with additional funding, more OFWs will benefit from the AKAP program and even more overseas workers will be repatriated and provided with assistance.
In terms of alternative employment opportunities, Bello said that several contractors in Guam intend to hire more skilled Filipinos under the construction and maintenance job categories.
Locally, he said, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has also expressed demand for OFW returnees, especially those with background in Information Technology and healthcare.