MANILA- The Philippines Labor department reported on Sunday the government repatriated more than 106,200 overseas Filipino workers and have been sent to their home provinces amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to DOLE’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), data showed the latest batch of 2,246 homebound OFWs, who tested negative for COVID 19, returned to their respective provinces on July 25.
Last May, about 34,000 OFWs were transported home, and an additional 72,000 more were ferried in the succeeding months.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government would exhaust all means to help OFWs regain jobs they lost abroad due to the pandemic.
It has already exceeded the 250,000 OFW beneficiaries of the P2.5-billion emergency funds for COVID-19 affected migrant workers.
The department also developed a tracking system, named as the “OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS)”, which aims to facilitate orderly and smooth repatriation and assistance to returning OFWs and outbound workers.
OWWA, in coordination with other agencies, Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs), and licensed manning agencies (LMAs), provides food, hygiene kits, and accommodation to returning OFWs, aside from transportation assistance.
254,846 requests for assistance under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program had been approved, with 214,619 OFWs already receiving the emergency aid, based on the latest reports from DOLE’s overseas offices and OWWA.
AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for onsite and repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic. About 554,966 migrant workers have sought government cash aid.
The labor department has also disbursed P2.232 billion of the P2.5-billion program fund as of July 21. It has requested an additional P2.5 billion in order to service the needs of more OFWs seeking assistance. (By Stanley Buenafe Gajete)
Photo courtesy: Business world