Over 100K OFWs sent home

More than 106,200 overseas Filipino workers repatriated by the government amid the coronavirus pandemic have been transported to their home provinces, the labor department reported on Sunday.

The latest batch of 2,246 home-bound OFWs, who tested negative for COVID 19, took their rides back to their respective provinces on July 25, DOLE’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) data showed.

In May, over 34,000 OFWs were transported home, and additional 72,000 more were ferried in the succeeding months.

With the surge in the number of returning OFWs, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government will exhaust all means to help OFWs regain jobs they lost abroad due to the pandemic.

DOLE has developed a tracking system, the OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS), to facilitate orderly and smooth repatriation and assistance to returning OFWs and outbound workers.

Aside from transportation assistance, OWWA, in coordination with other agencies, Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs), and licensed manning agencies (LMAs), provides food, hygiene kits, and accommodation to returning OFWs.

This developed as DOLE said it has already exceeded the 250,000 OFW beneficiaries of the P2.5-billion emergency fund for Covid 19 affected migrant workers.

Latest reports from DOLE’s overseas offices and OWWA showed that 254,846 requests for assistance under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program had been approved, with 214,619 OFWs already receiving the emergency aid.

AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for onsite and repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic.

About 554,966 migrant workers have sought the government cash aid.

The labor department has so far disbursed P2.232 billion of the P2.5-billion program fund as of July 21.

It has requested an additional P2.5 billion in order to service the needs of more OFWs seeking assistance.