DOLE: More OFWs seeking assistance

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOLE: More OFWs seeking assistance
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said DOLE has already received 30,000 applications for the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong program.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has recorded a surge in the number of  coronavirus disease-affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) seeking assistance from the government.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said DOLE has already received 30,000 applications for the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.

“We are still in the process of (assessing) their application and, after that, remittances of cash assistance,” Bello said during a virtual press briefing.

Bello said the number of applications they received represents 20 percent of the 150,000 OFW target recipients of one-time financial assistance for OFWs displaced due to COVID-19.

“If they are still in another country, they will receive their $200. But if they are already home, they will receive the peso equivalent of P10,000,”  Bello disclosed. 

Aside from the P1.5-billion amelioration program of DOLE, Bello said they will also continue to provide other forms of assistance to OFWs through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). 

OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac reported that they have provided different forms of assistance to over 12,000 OFWs. 

He said about 5,000 have been provided temporary shelter in hotels in Metro Manila, 4,000 with food packs, and 3,500 with transportation assistance. 

“You can be assured that we will continue to provide assistance to OFWs. Just bring your request to us and provide us their names and contact numbers,” Cacdac disclosed.

Health, death benefits

With the enhanced community quarantine expected to be lifted in the coming week, workers are seeking health and insurance coverage on their return to their workplaces.

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) urged the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) to include in the list of work-related compensation programs, hospitalization and death benefits insurance to government and private employees who might be exposed to COVID-19 while working.

“We urge the ECC board to immediately issue a resolution providing insurance coverage for employees in private and government sectors as safety net for workers who might be infected or exposed to the COVID-19 hazard risk on the way to or from work, and or have been exposed inside the work establishments,” ALU executive vice president Gerard Seno said. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Rudy Santos

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