100K more OFWs to get aid

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Another 100,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will benefit from the cash assistance program of the government, which was infused with additional funds worth P1 billion, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said Saturday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said some 100,000 OFWs affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic are entitled to the one-time cash aid from the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program of the Department of Labor and Employment.

“The Department of Budget and Management has added P1 billion for the DOLE-AKAP applicants so that an additional 100,000 beneficiaries will benefit from the program,” Cacdac said.

He added that they are looking to start giving out the cash aid to OFWs this week.

“Starting this week, we will continue to approve applications, it would be like part three of the DOLE-AKAP,” he said.

Cacdac noted that 230,000 OFWs have initially benefited from the program with a budget of over P2 billion.

The one-time cash assistance is intended for displaced land-based and sea-based (regular/undocumented) workers, returning workers (Balik Manggagawa) to their job sites but were stranded in the Philippines.

Earlier, the DOLE reported that it has received over 560,000 applications for the program.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also assured yesterday the government will exhaust all means to help OFWs regain jobs they lost abroad due to the pandemic.

“Many governments went ahead of us in easing restrictions. Their industries are almost fully operational again by now. They could recall our OFWs anytime,” Bello said in a media release.

If that happens, he said, the labor department is committed to provide assistance required by OFWs.

He said the government is able and ready to engage with foreign governments with new policies on migrant workers with regards to safety and health measures against the deadly virus.

He also raised the possibilities that OFWs could be rehired en masse by economies that are fast recovering.

“That would require transportation and if our OFWs need chartered flights we will do our best to come up with enough logistics for that,” Bello added.*

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