Over 6,000 distressed OFWs from Region 12 get financial aid from DOLE

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 November) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already released a total of P63.5 million in financial assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Region 12 who were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

At least 158 residents of the Bangsamoro Region and neighboring areas arrive at the airport in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao aboard a sweeper flight arranged by the regional government on Friday, June 5, 2020. Most of the passengers were students from Baguio City and returning overseas workers who were stranded in Manila. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

Marilou Sumalinog, OWWA-Region 12 director, said Thursday they have so far assisted 6,359 distressed OFWs from the region’s four provinces and five cities who returned home since March.

She said these were workers who were retrenched and whose employment contracts were terminated due to the crisis.

Each of the qualified returning overseas workers received a one-time cash grant of P10,000 under the Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong assistance program.

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 through the M Lhuiller money transfer service.

“This is a continuing program and we still accept applications through the program’s online portal,” Sumalinog said in a press conference in Koronadal City.

She said those qualified are displaced and distressed OFWs due to the COVID-19 pandemic who returned to the country starting Feb. 1.

The official said they simplified the processing and evaluation of the applications, which are all done online.

She said all applications are immediately assessed upon receipt and endorsed for approval once the required attachments are complete.

Aside from the financial grants, Sumalinog said they continue to provide assistance to returning OFWs from the region by arranging the “sweeper” flights.

Since May 25, she said they already assisted a total of 12,497 workers and more are coming in on a daily basis.

“We have one regular sweeper flight daily but sometimes we cater to two depending on the number of returning OFWs,” she said, adding that each flight serves 100 to 200 passengers. (MindaNews)