600 OFWs in Region 12 affected by COVID-19 receive emergency assistance

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 April) – Around 600 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from parts of Region 12 or Soccsksargen who were affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have already received emergency financial assistance from the national government.

Marilou Sumalinog, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-Region 12 director, said these comprise displaced overseas workers who qualified as of Monday for the cash grants under the Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (DOLE-AKAP) assistance program.

She said the beneficiaries, who were assessed and approved by OWWA-12 through an online system, received a one-time financial assistance of P10,000 each.

The total releases so far for the region, which were done through the PESONet electronic funds transfer service, has reached over P6 million.

Sumalinog said the processing of the other applicants is currently ongoing and noted that their number has been increasing on a daily basis.

She said they already leased an internet café in Koronadal City and assigned at least 17 evaluators to fast-track the process.

“Rest assured that we are doing everything to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of these benefits to our qualified OFWs,” she said in a radio interview here.

Citing data from their central office, the official said at least 2,040 OFWs from parts of the region had been identified as target beneficiaries for the assistance program.

DOLE-AKAP caters to land and sea-based OFWs whose employments were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also covers qualified undocumented OFWs or those who were originally regular or documented workers, but for some reason or cause have thereafter lost their regular or documented status.

Sumalinog said some of the applicants from the region were workers who were sent home by their employers or availed of the government’s repatriation program due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Most of the affected OFWs were from the Middle East and parts of Asia, especially Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, she said.

She said a number of them were stranded in Philippine Overseas Labor Offices after being displaced due to retrenchment and company closure.

“We also catered to OFWs who returned home since December and were due to go back to their work abroad but were affected by the COVID-19 problem,” she said.

Sumalinog added that they expect the number of applicants to increase once the airline flights and other modes of travel will start to normalize. (MindaNews)