230,000 OFWs displaced by pandemic

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
230,000 OFWs displaced by pandemic
The number is on top of more than two million workers nationwide displaced by measures to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease pandemic has displaced over 230,000 overseas Filipino workers so far, and the OFWs are seeking financial aid from the government.

The number is on top of more than two million workers nationwide displaced by measures to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

DOLE said in a statement yesterday that it has asked for a supplemental budget to be able to provide financial assistance to displaced OFWs and local workers.

It noted that the number of OFWs seeking assistance has exceeded the 150,000 target beneficiaries under the DOLE’s P1.5-billion fund for the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) has so far received a total of 118,134 applications from workers onsite. Both land and sea-based workers are eligible.

As of April 24, the POLOs and the local offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) received a total of 233,015 requests for assistance under the AKAP, which provides a one-time cash aid of P10,000 or $200 to qualified OFWs.

Based on reports coming from the 40 POLOs worldwide, at least 89,436 OFWs were either displaced or on a no-work, no-pay status due to lockdowns and slowdown of businesses in host countries.

Of those seeking assistance, DOLE said 49,040 OFWs are set to receive the cash aid within 10 working days after the processing of applications. Of that number, about 34,000 are onsite OFWs or those still staying in host countries while more than 15,000 have either already been repatriated or are returning but unable to depart to their country of destination.

DOLE noted that OWWA and the POLOs have assisted 36,385 repatriated OFWs since the onset of the health crisis.

On the local work displacement, DOLE had disbursed P1.7 billion of its regular funds to finance the one-time assistance of P5,000 each to 345,865 formal sector workers under the COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

It also said that 259,449 informal sector workers benefitted from the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK) program. This amounted to P1.14 billion from DOLE’s 2020 budget.

Reports from the DOLE regional offices showed that the number of displaced workers nationwide has ballooned to 2,073,362 from 79,271 establishments.

The DOLE said close to 1.4 million workers were displaced due to temporary closures while more than 687,000 had reduced incomes under the alternative work arrangements like less workdays, rotation, forced leave and telecommuting.

About 90 percent of the establishments that reported work displacements are seeking CAMP assistance for their workers.

The National Capital Region recorded the highest displacement figure with 687,634 workers, followed by Central Luzon at 281,278 and Davao region with 207,789.

Calabarzon reported 158,646 workers; Region 10 with 106,162; followed by Region 2 at 88,531; Central Visayas with 86,767; Mimaropa at 74,533; Region 6 with 65,892 and the Bicol region with 65,757.

Cordillera Administrative Region recorded 63,957 workers, Region 8 with 49,362 and Caraga at 39,711.

The areas with the least affected workers are Region 9 with 37,683; Region 1 at 32,017 and Region 12 with 27,643.

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