• By The Financial District


Updated: Apr 12, 2021

The number of overseas Filipino workers seeking assistance due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic surged to more than 600,000, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

Citing reports from its foreign posts and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the increasing volume of requests for assistance by OFWs is being met by the timely release of additional repatriation fund for OWWA.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and OWWA showed 604,403 onsite and repatriated OFWs had sought DOLE’s cash aid as of August 15 and approved close to half the requests of about 272,000 OFWs.

DOLE provides the one-time $200 or P10,000 assistance under AKAP to migrant workers affected by the pandemic with total funding of P2.5 billion meant to benefit 250,000 OFWs. The budget is almost fully depleted with the disbursement of P2.436 billion to 237,778 OFW beneficiaries as of Saturday.

The labor chief last week said President Duterte ordered the release of P5 billion in additional funds for the repatriation and assistance to OFWs, a huge portion of which went to OWWA.

Of those seeking assistance, 349,977 are onsite workers or those displaced and stranded overseas, while 254,426 are repatriated land based and sea-based OFWs.

Meanwhile, Bello also reported that a total of 146,658 returning OFWs have been transported to their home provinces as of August 15, Saturday.

He said the latest batch of 3,081 repatriated workers took their rides home after being tested negative of the virus. A separate batch of 2,743 OFWs were bused to the provinces earlier on Friday.

Aside from transportation, the OFWs were provided hotel accommodation and other assistance while awaiting result of their COVID tests.