The DOLE is still waiting for the DBM to approve more funds for the OFW cash aid program that aims to help around 500k more displaced workers due to the COVID-19 crisis.
DOLE Awaits Budget Approval
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) still awaits the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the request for an additional Php2.5 billion to fund the cash assistance program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
This particular program is a one-time emergency cash aid of PHP10,000 ($200) to help the OFWs amid the loss of jobs due to the pandemic.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that though they have already helped thousands of OFWs, providing them with the cash assistance, there are more who needed help. With the increasing number of on-site and repatriated OFWs who are requesting assistance, the DOLE no longer has enough funds to accommodate their requests.
Thus, Bello said they asked for additional funding from the DBM. Once approved, the program will be able to provide emergency assistance to nearly half a million OFWs.
“There is no action yet from the DBM on our request for additional funds for the DOLE-AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) program but we are confident President (Rodrigo) Duterte will allow the request to help our OFWs,” Bello explained.
Based on the DOLE-AKAP report as July 9, the program has received 563,497 applications from OFWs, both land- and sea-based workers. Many of the workers are still in their host countries but others have returned to the Philippines
Php2.02 billion has been disbursed to 194,187 beneficiaries from the 232,427 approved applications. The others remain pending due to various issues, including lack of funds.
Funded under Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the DOLE received Php2.5 billion in two tranches to enable the government agency to assist 250,000 target beneficiaries.
Is the DOLE-AKAP for All OFWs?
Not all OFWs will receive the DOLE-AKAP assistance worth Php10,000. While there are, indeed, many OFWs who lost their jobs prior to COVID-19, the DOLE-AKAP assistance is specifically intended for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Those who already received assistance from OWWA are no longer qualified for the DOLE-AKAP cash aid program.