Overseas Filipino workers displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic who are based in countries with existing Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) will be given priority in the one-time cash assistance Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
In Department Order No. 220-2020, the Labor department identified these countries as Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Cyprus, Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States of America.
“The DOLE shall provide financial assistance to displaced OFWs, who are in the following countries, territories with POLO presence,” read the order.
DoLE - International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) Director Alice Visperas, however, said that arriving or repatriated OFWs can apply for the AKAP program regardless of their country of origin.
On Sunday, the DoLE said starting November 30, OFWs who will be repatriated to the Philippines may file their application for the AKAP program prior to their arrival in the country.
DoLE said all new applications for AKAP will now be accepted through the website oasis.owwa.gov.ph for displaced OFWs who are scheduled for repatriation.
This will allow the offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to process and evaluate the applications in advance, said the labor department.
For stranded Balik-Manggagawa and seafarers whose deployment was suspended due to COVID-19 as well as those who have been and will be repatriated before Nov. 30, 2020, DoLE said, applications must still be filed through dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph.
It added that displaced OFWs who will remain onsite may file their application through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office covering their workplace.
Since the implementation of AKAP last April, the DoLE, through the OWWA, DoLE Regional Offices, and the POLO, has already approved a total of 389,996 applications from OFWs out of the 683,369 applications it has received.
As of Nov. 28, DoLE said it had disbursed P3.45 billion benefitting 338,900 distressed OFWs.