DoLE assures continuous aid to OFWs displaced by Covid

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has assured  continuous assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were  displaced or have lost their jobs due the coronavirus disease 19 (Covid-19) outbreak to help keep them afloat.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said on Tuesday that it is a government commitment to the Filipino migrant workers, adding that the same is also true for  local workers.

“Our government will not renege on its commitment to provide the needed assistance to our OFWs. We will continue to assist them for as long as it takes,” Bello said.

The government has repatriated more than half a million OFWs  who were displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief  Hans Leo Cacdac,  a total of  502,581 OFW  repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing Covid tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

A separate report of DoLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)  showed there were 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic, 627,576 of whom were displaced.

ILAB Director Alice Visperas said 49,698 of those displaced OFWs had requested for repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

ILAB records also indicated an increasing number of OFWs infected with the disease. As of April 4, it recorded 17,495 confirmed Covid cases among OFWs based on reports submitted by the 40 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs)  worldwide. Of this figure, 10,155 recovered with 938 deaths.

The DoLE has three main assistance  programs for OFWS and local workers, namely: the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP),  the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers, Barangay Ko Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK), and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP).

They are all part of the government’s response, as provided for under Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1), and the new Bayanihan 2 law  to mitigate the adverse economic effects of the health emergency to formal  sector workers, OFWs and informal sector workers by providing them financial assistance and temporary wage employment.

So far, DoLE’s AKAP assistance has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs, he said. AKAP is a one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DoLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs. To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW Covid patients.

Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs.

The CAMP program extended a P5,000 cash assistance to formal sector workers, while  the TUPAD program provided workers in the informal sector a 10-day emergency employment and paid the minimum wage prevailing in their respective areas.