OWWA-12 releases P38.4 million in assistance to OFWs from Soccsksargen

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 June) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already released around P38.4 million in financial assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Region 12 or Soccsksargen who were affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Marilou Sumalinog, OWWA-Region 12 director, said they have processed and approved as of Tuesday a total of 3,845 OFWs for the one-time cash grant of P10,000 under the Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (DOLE-AKAP) assistance program.

She said they continue to receive and process applicants from affected workers, especially those who failed to return to work and whose contracts or placements were terminated due to the crisis.

These include OFWs who were stranded as a result of the flight suspensions during the lockdown or enhanced community quarantine from mid-March to April, Sumalinog said.

“We’re still expecting more applications in the coming days, especially from the returning distressed OFWs,” Sumalinog said in a radio interview.

She said qualified OFWs may apply for the assistance through the DOLE-AKAP portal and the grants will be released later on through the PESONet electronic funds transfer service.

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

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

Sumalinog said they also accept and process applications for their other flagship assistance programs, among them the “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” and the OWWA Livelihood Development Program for OFWs.

Under the livelihood program, she said qualified overseas workers may apply for loans ranging from P100,000 to P2 million for their chosen projects.

As part of their response initiative in line with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sumalinog said the agency has so far facilitated the return of a total of 1,290 OFWs who were stranded in Metro Manila and other areas due to the quarantine measures.

She said most of these were catered by “sweeper” flights via the airports here and in Davao City that were arranged by the national government.

Some of the returning OFWs, especially the sea-based workers, traveled through 2Go passenger vessels via Cagayan de Oro City, she said.

Sumalinog added that they expect the special flights to continue until all stranded OFWs from the region are flown home. (MindaNews)