If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to displace OFWs around the world, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) could face bankruptcy by 2021, the government agency announced. This is quite alarming, considering that many OFWs depend on the OWWA for help in various aspects.
OWWA Faces Bankruptcy
Right now, the OWWA is spending money to help displaced OFWs, whether through relief assistance or repatriation. But the government agency’s funds are quickly dwindling. If the pandemic continues to affect so many OFWs, OWWA fears that it could face bankruptcy as early as 2021!
Aside from having so many expenses to help stricken OFWs, collections have also been down by 46% — and that’s to be expected, considering that so many OFWs had lost their jobs.
“We started the year at Php19.6 billion, we’re down Php18.8 billion due to expenditures natin for the first half of the year,” explained OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac during the Senate labor committee hearing.
The agency’s continuing expenditure for the assistance of OFWs affected by the crisis included food packs and other relief goods, transportation assistance, accommodation, shelter, and even cash releases.
“The number of OFWs we have billeted around 28,000. We incurred P29,000 per capita cost per OFW since March 15,” explained Cacdac.
This meant that the OWWA had spent Php784 million on hotel fees alone. Php132 million was spent for food assistance.
Aside from assistance provided for OFWs in many affected countries, OWWA also extended assistance to OFWs who were unable to leave the Philippines due to travel restrictions.
“For the rest, we have spent here in what we call Tulong Marino Program benefiting 7,000 stranded seafarers all around the city,” said Cacdac.
“These are seafarers who have contracts or seafarers who have long been applying to get a contract. They were overtaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and have been living in dorms, boarding houses around the city. We have been providing food assistance to 7,000 of them since March 15 every day, three meals a day.”
A fund of Php2.5 billion was also allocated for the Php10,000 cash subsidy to OFWs and scholarships to their children.
By the end of the 2020, OWWA believes that as much as Php10 billion will be depleted from its funds; perhaps more.
“We’re worried about the future…We know that this is a fund for OFWs and we’re willing to spend them but we’re also thinking of the sustainability factor,” Cacdac mused.
“If the current situation keeps up we are spending for hotels, we’re spending for food, we’re spending for transport, assuming all factors currently present continue…yes [we could face bankruptcy by 2021].”
How to Avail OWWA Assistance for OFWs
According to OWWA, this is what qualified OFWs should do to avail of the financial assistance in the Philippines:
Step 1. Apply for the assistance through http://dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph
Step 2. Complete all the required information. Upload necessary documents, if needed.
Step 3. Wait for your application to be validated and approved.
Step 4. Once approved, the documents will be forwarded to the concerned DOLE Regional Office for funding through Money transfer or PESO Net, within five (5) working days upon approval.
For OFWs on site (those who are still in other countries), visit the nearest Philippine Labor Office (POLO).