354 distressed OFWs from Saudi Arabia set to arrive in PHL – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020   •   176

MANILA, Philippines – Some 354 distressed overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia are set to arrive in the country on Wednesday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the group of repatriated Filipinos is expected to land in Manila on Wednesday afternoon onboard a chartered flight.

In a report to Bello, Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa said majority of the passengers are distressed OFWs from Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, and from temporary shelters maintained by the POLOs in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

Also included in the flight are 12 workers from Jussur Emdad, 45 workers from Arkad Co., as well as 14 OFWs previously employed by Abdullah Aldossary, Azmeel Contracting Co., Rakan Trading, which are all based in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

These OFWs joined a number of OFWs who have worked for Freyssinet, Jussur Emdad, Samana Company and Rent Human Resources as well as walk-in OFWs whose exit visas were facilitated by the labor office in Riyadh, Bello added.

The labor chief said he has instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide all necessary assistance to the returning Filipino workers.

The repatriation of the OFWs is in line with the department’s efforts to provide assistance to OFWs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, some of our OFWs have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and we hope that our repatriation efforts would bring them comfort as they will soon join their families and loved ones,” Bello said.

DOLE also reported that so far, more than 111,400 returning OFWs have been transported to their respective provinces.

The last batch of OFWs to be sent home are 3,035 workers who took their rides in OWWA-arranged buses and other means of transportation on Monday.  

Duterte approves P5-B for OFW aid, repatriation

Maris Federez   •   August 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced Sunday that President Duterte has approved the release of an additional P5 billion for the repatriation and assistance to overseas Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Dahil po mahal na mahal ni Pangulong Duterte ang ating mga bagong bayani, ibinigay po nya ang kailangan nating dagdag na pondo para sa repatriation at tulong para sa ating mga OFW,” Bello said.

In a statement issued on August 9, the Labor chief said a huge part of the said funds will be released to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as the one that undertakes the repatriation of displaced OFWs due to lockdowns and closure of establishments overseas.

OWWA is also the one that shoulders the cost of COVID-19 tests of OFWs upon their arrival in the country, as well as their food and accommodation in hotels while awaiting test results of the test.

The agency also takes care of the OFWs transportation to their home provinces once they are tested negative for the virus.

OWWA has so far sent home close to 130,000 OFWs since May 15 via land, sea and air transport.

Other than the OWWA assistance, DOLE has been extending a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid under AKAP to pandemic-affected OFWs, both on-site and those stranded in the country, the statement said.

It added that the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) and OWWA had facilitated the processing and approval of the applications of 267,584 OFWs under the program that was meant to benefit only 250,000.

“I have directed our POLOs to accelerate the processing of the assistance so that a greater number of our OFWs will benefit soonest from the aid coming from our government,” Bello said.

The secretary had requested a P2.5 billion additional fund for the 597,469 OFWs who are requesting assistance from the government.

Bello believes that with additional funding, “more OFWs will benefit from the AKAP program and even more overseas workers will be repatriated and provided with assistance.” — /mbmf

DOLE vows immediate repatriation of Filipino casualties in Beirut blast

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured it is now extending assistance to the family of the Filipino workers who died in the powerful blasts that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III condoled with the families of the two Filipino workers who were among the reported fatalities in the twin explosions.

“We condole with the families of the two Filipino workers who perished in the tragic accident in Beirut,” he said.

Bello said the families of those who died in the incident have been duly notified and that the agency is working on the immediate repatriation of their remains.

“We shall expedite the release of appropriate insurance and OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) benefits for all victims of the tragedy,” he said.

On Wednesday, two powerful blasts ripped through the Port of Beirut, Lebanon that left at least 100 people dead and more than 4,000 injured.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that eight Filipinos were also hurt in the incident while the 11 others who were earlier reported missing have been found and accounted for.

The labor chief said they are also praying for the fast recovery of the Filipinos who are still undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Lebanon for the serious injuries they sustained.

Bello said his office is coordinating closely with Beirut authorities for the safe return of Filipino workers who wish to avail of the Philippine government’s repatriation program.

Over 120K repatriated OFWs return to their provinces

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 5, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday (August 4) reported that more than 120,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are now back in their respective provinces.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administratio (OWWA), the department has assisted and sent home 122,369 OFWs since May.

“We will not get tired of assisting our returning OFWs, and facilitate their transport to the provinces and be with their families. This is just a small way to repay their enormous contribution to our country,” Bello said.

The labor chief also said that the labor department has almost exhausted the P2.5-billion AKAP assistance fund being extended to both on-site and repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic. AAC

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