The Philippines’ Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) said more than 600,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have sought assistance from the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is responding to the requests for assistance by the timely release of additional repatriation fund.
Data from the Philippine Overseas Labour Offices and OWWA showed that as of Aug. 15, a total of 604,403 on-site and repatriated OFWs had sought cash aid from the DOLE.
The labour department said close to half of the requests, or 272,000, had been approved.
Of those seeking assistance, 349,977 are on-site workers or those displaced and stranded overseas, while 254,426 are repatriated land-based and sea-based Filipino migrant workers.
Last week, Bello said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the release of PHP5 billion in additional funds for the repatriation and assistance to OFWs, a huge portion of which went to the OWWA.
The DOLE provides a one-time US$200 or PHP10,000 assistance under Abot Kamayang Pagtulong program to migrant workers affected by the pandemic with total funding of PHP2.5 billion meant to benefit 250,000 migrant workers.
The budget is almost fully depleted with the disbursement of PHP2.436 billion to 237,778 OFW beneficiaries as of Saturday, the DOLE said.
Meanwhile, Bello also reported that a total of 146,658 returning migrant workers have been transported to their home provinces as of Aug. 15.
He said the latest batch of 3,081 repatriated workers took their rides home after being tested negative of the virus. A separate batch of 2,743 was transported to the provinces earlier on Friday.
Aside from transportation, the repatriates were provided hotel accommodations and other assistance while awaiting result of their COVID-19 tests. (Source: INQUIERE.net)