Duterte orders AFP to prepare for evacuation of OFWs in the Middle East

Marje Pelayo   •   January 7, 2020   •   609

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has alerted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the event that the tension between Iran and the United States of America escalates.

During the 45th meeting of the President’s Cabinet on Sunday (January 6), the President expressed grave concern over the condition and safety of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East particularly in countries involved like Iran, Iraq and nearby Arab nations, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“He stressed that it is the paramount duty of the government to give protection to the Filipinos whenever their lives are in peril and wherever they are,” Panelo quoted the President.

Thus, during the meeting, President Duterte ordered the military to prepare their air and naval assets for possible evacuation of Filipinos in the event hostilities erupt between the US and Iran.

Aside from creating a special working committee composed of members of his Cabinet, the President also directed all concerned government agencies to prepare for contingencies that will absorb displaced workers to government projects.

Meanwhile, the President also ordered Special Envoy to the Middle East Secretary Roy Cimatu to immediately fly to the Middle East to establish coordination with the host countries and lay the groundwork for the evacuation.

Likewise, Panelo said, President Duterte instructed Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao to proceed to Iran and Iraq to deliver the President’s special messages to the Iranian and Iraqi Governments on the safety of the Filipinos working in their respective countries.

30,000 OFW children in college to benefit from P1-B education subsidy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

More than 30,000 college students who are dependents of repatriated, displaced, and deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will benefit from the government’s P1 billion education subsidy, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed a memorandum of agreement to launch “Tabang OFW”. The program aims to provide a one-time financial assistance of P30,000 to one college-level dependent of a repatriated, displaced, or deceased OFW.

Bello said the program is just one of the government’s ways of reciprocating the sacrifices of overseas Filipinos.

“We hope this will go a long way in helping our OFWs and their children in these most challenging times. By doing this, we also hope we can partly repay our modern-day heroes,” he said.

Under the agreement the Labor Department shall issue orders, circulars or guidelines that will spell out the effective and efficient implementation of the program while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will release the funds amounting to P1 billion to DOLE for its implementation.

The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) will assist DOLE on the promotion and other information dissemination activities of the program. AAC

US donates hygiene kits, handwashing stations to Manila City gov’t

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government of the United States on Thursday donated hygiene kits and handwashing stations to the city government of Manila in support of the Philippine capital’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, US Ambassador Sung Kim said he visited the Delpan Quarantine Facility in Tondo to handover 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Kim said the hygiene kits could provide additional protection against COVID-19 through the provision of items essential to practicing good personal hygiene.

The kits contain face masks, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and toothbrushes.

“The U.S. government is a friend, partner, and ally of the Manileños in facing this pandemic. The American people are pleased to support the City of Manila’s efforts to fight COVID-19,” Kim said.

To complement the donation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will continue to collaborate with the Manila City Health Office to help ensure that citizens can access quality tuberculosis services during the pandemic as well as to support the rollout of the Department of Health’s “Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE)” strategy to contain the pandemic.

USAID recently donated two ventilators to the Tondo Medical Center as part of the 100 ventilators that the U.S. government handed over last August 28 to the Philippine government.

To date, the U.S. government has donated over P1 billion ($22.6 million) to support the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.

Over 136k OFWs sent home, DOLE says

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 136,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been transported to their respective home provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the latest batch of 2,667 OFWs who were cleared of coronavirus disease was sent home on August 11.

This brings the total to 136,509 OFWs provided with a package of DOLE assistance since it started transporting OFWs en masse in May after undergoing tests and quarantine, Bello said.

The labor chief added that the department, with the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and other government agencies, have been providing OFWs with assistance including accommodation, food, transportation and coronavirus testing upon their arrival in the country.

This is aside from a one-time P10,000 or $200 aid under its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs affected by the pandemic, both on-site and stranded in the country.

Bello recently welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of an additional P5 billion fund for its assistance program which will benefit more OFWs.

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