A total of 6,924 Filipinos in Dubai and the northern emirates have received the one-time cash assistance of US$200 (AED730) that the Philippine government has provided for migrant workers who have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A few more hundreds are expected to receive on June 03.
According to Labour Attaché Felicitas Bay, the Philippine Overseas Labour Office-Dubai and Northern Emirates (POLO-DNE), as of June 02, have received a total of 79,800 applications for the financial assistance programme for displaced land-based and sea-based Filipino workers worldwide due to coronavirus diseases, known as “DOLE-AKAP for OFWs”, created by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Ms. Bay stressed, in a Facebook Live interview set up by some members of the Filipino community in the UAE, that while POLO-Dubai continues to receive and process applications for the cash assistance it has to follow a “first-come-first-served basis” as government budget allocated for her jurisdiction is good only for 17,000 Filipino migrant workers.
“We always have to consider that everything depends on the [government’s] budget. We are hoping that more [beneficiaries]would be added but until such time that we would receive further instruction [from the head office], we only have an allocation for 17,000 beneficiaries at the moment,” she explained.
The POLO-DNE chief further stressed that the overall budget for the DOLE-AKAP programme is PHP2.5 billion (US$50 million) in total to aid about 250,000 Filipino migrant workers all over the world who have either partially or totally lost jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.
“We should understand that the government is trying its best to help that is why from the PHP1.5 billion budget initially allocated, another PHP1 billion has been added. I really do not know if there will be another additional [budget]but we are really hoping that more would be added,” she said in the interview.
Asked why it takes a long time to process each application, Ms. Bay explained that they have to go through each application carefully to make sure that every single applicant followed instructions and gave all the necessary requirements.
“We have assigned personnel especially for the DOLE-AKAP programme, but validation is very difficult even though everything is online because sometimes we still have to call or email the employers if there is a need for some information to be verified or needs validation,” she said.
The Labour Attache also pointed out that validation process should be done meticulously as it involves a big sum of money, of which she is accountable being the head of office.
It is also important she said that beneficiaries have fulfilled all the necessary requirements in order for their applications not to be delayed or rejected.
Ms. Bay also made it clear that Filipinos in Dubai and the northern emirates should directly apply for the DOLE-AKAP programme through the POLO-DNE portal, adding that applying in any other means will not be entertained.
The DOLE-AKAP programme was announced by Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III on March 25 but was temporarily suspended on May 11 “pending evaluation of applications received and subject to availability of funds”, and resumed only on May 24.
According to the POLO-DNE data, a total of 26,752 applications have already been evaluated as of June 02, of which 9,691 have been approved.
Beneficiaries will be notified of their scheduled payouts which could be collected from POLO-DNE or from accredited exchange centres, said Ms. Bay. (ham/RC)