DOLE releases P23.7 million for OFW assistance in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 May) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has released P23.7 million in financial assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from parts of Region 12 or Soccsksargen who were affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Marilou Sumalinog, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) regional director, said they already approved and processed as of Monday a total of 2,379 displaced overseas workers under the DOLE-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program.

She said the distribution of the one-time P10,000 cash grant is ongoing through the PESONet electronic funds transfer service.

The official said the approved recipients in the region have already exceeded their original target of 2,040 OFWs.

“We’re expecting more releases in the coming days as we are still accepting and processing applications from affected OFWs,” Sumalinog said in a briefing in Koronadal City.

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

Under the program, she said OWWA was tasked to process and approve the applications, and endorse them to DOLE for the release of the cash grants.

Sumalinog said they were also assisting OFWs from the region who were stranded in Metro Manila, Clark International Airport and Cebu City due to the grounding of domestic flights since March 16.

She said the negotiations and preparations were ongoing for the commissioning of additional “sweeper flights” that would bring the workers home.

Last month, she said four OFWs with “special needs,” three coming from this city and one from Koronadal City, were flown home through a Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft via the Cotabato airport.

She said two seafarers from the region, one from this city and another from Banga town, arrived last week in Cagayan de Oro City through a passenger vessel.

The two were among the 38 stranded seafarers from Mindanao who returned home from Metro Manila through the efforts of the Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior and Local Government and OWWA. (MindaNews)