MANILA – More than 106,200 overseas Filipino workers repatriated by the government amid the coronavirus pandemic have been transported to their home provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported 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 an additional 72,000 more were ferried in the succeeding months.
With the surge in the number of returning OFWs, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, in a press release, 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, recruitment agencies and licensed manning agencies, 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 PHP2.5-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 USD200 or PHP10,000 for onsite and repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic.
About 554,966 migrant workers have sought government cash aid.
The labor department has so far disbursed PHP2.232 billion of the PHP2.5-billion program fund as of July 21.
It has requested an additional PHP2.5 billion in order to service the needs of more OFWs seeking assistance. (DOLE PR)