DOLE seeks P2.5 billion more cash aid for OFWs displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020   •   697

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking to get additional budget for its cash assistance program for the growing number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

DOLE said that as of July 4, its overseas offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have recorded a total of 551,606 aid applications from land-based and sea-based workers who are either still in host countries or have already returned to the Philippines.

“The fund released to us is fast depleting. So far, our offices approved the requests of 224,756 OFWs, 128,348 of whom are still locked down or stranded in their countries of work,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.

The agency had been given P2.5 billion in two tranches to finance its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program, a one-time cash aid of $200 or P10,000 to help Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic. The budget for the program came from the emergency fund under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Of the 250,000 expected beneficiaries of the program, around 188,473 have already received the cash aid from DOLE as of July 4 amounting to some P1.927 billion, DOLE said.

Of those who have received the aid, 105,756 are on-site while the remaining beneficiaries have returned to the country, it added.

With additional funding, AKAP will be able to extend emergency assistance to close to half a million OFWs, Bello said.

Bello hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will grant their request to extend help to more OFWs in need.

DFA logs two new COVID cases among overseas Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported two new COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad.

Likewise, three overseas Filipino workers (OFW) recovered from the infection and no new fatalities were recorded.

Overall, DFA logged a total of 20,424 cases of COVID-19 among Filipinos from different parts of the world.

Of this number, 7,108 are currently undergoing treatment.

Also, 12,096 recovered and a total of 1,220 succumbed to the disease in all 94 countries and territories around the globe.

DFA facilitates return of over 300 distressed OFWs from UAE

Maris Federez   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 325 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 on Thursday (June 17), according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The DFA said this was the third flight from UAE especially chartered by the department this year through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) using the DFA’s Assistance to National Fund.

The DFA-OUMWA welcomed the latest group of repatriates, which included 88 pregnant distressed overseas Filipinos upon their arrival in Manila.

“To our kababayan in distress, we hear you. We are here for you,” stated DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, stressing her vow to continue providing assistance to all OFWs in need.

“This recent arrival is a clear testament of our commitment to bring you home,” she added.

The DFA said that through the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, the department will continue to accept applications for future repatriations from the UAE.

The previous chartered flight from the UAE last 31 June 2021, brought home 396 overseas Filipinos.

In conformity with health protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH) – Bureau of Quarantine, the repatriates will undergo stringent facility-based quarantine provided by the Philippine government. They shall also be subjected to RT-PCR Testing for COVID19.

The Philippine government upholds the One-Country Team Approach by continuously collaborating and cooperating with the DOH, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure the safety and welfare of our Kababayans, the DFA said. —/mbmf

DOLE eyes expanding HCW deployment cap to 10k

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) eyes increasing the current deployment cap on healthcare workers (HCW) to 5,000 more and make it 10,000 per year.

“Naniniwala ako right now na we have enough number of nurses kaya I’m willing to recommend na itaas ang deployment cap from 5,000 to another 5,000,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in response to the request of HCW who wish to seek employment abroad.

Recently, the government has stopped the deployment of new medical workers abroad after the number reached the 5,000-limit.

Bello assured that should his recommendation be approved, the country would not come short of healthcare workers.

He stressed, however, that the decision still remains with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

The Filipino Nurses United is pleased with the proposal as this would provide more opportunities for them to seek greener pastures abroad.

However, they still want the removal of the deployment cap and let all Filipino healthcare workers explore employment opportunities in other countries.

“Sa tingin po namin merong sapat in terms of number. Ang problema po ay yung paghikayat ng gobyerno na magtrabaho sila as nurses sa ating mga healthcare facilities,” said Jocelyn Andamo, Secretary-General of the Filipino Nurses United.

The group said there are still around 200,000 nurses in the country who work outside their profession and earn below what they deserve being professional nurses.

Since the deployment cap was imposed, around 4,000 nurses were not able to process their documents for employment abroad. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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