DOLE approves 45,000 applications for OFW cash aid

MANILA, Philippines – The government has approved some 45,000 applications for the one-time P10,000 financial assistance for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This figure was provided by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator Hans Leo Cacdac on Saturday, April 25, during the virtual Laging Handa press briefing.

Due to migrant workers' urgent need for the aid, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has instructed that Philippine Overseas Labor Offices be "flexible with requirements" and "not too stringent," said Cacdac.

An estimated one million Filipinos abroad have been displaced from employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How are returning OFWs doing? Migrant workers continue to return to the Philippines given the uncertain and risky employment conditions abroad.

But they face several difficulties, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said  in the same virtual press briefing.

OFWs with residences in the Visayas and Mindanao are having a hard time getting back because of the lack of air, land, and sea transportation.

"Those who go home to Visayas or Mindanao, we are trying to find a way to bring them home. If the air sector and sea sector normalize, we will find a way," Dulay said in Filipino.

The return of some OFWs are also delayed when their local government units insist on placing them on quarantine for 14 days even if they had already undergone quarantine when they arrived in the Philippines from abroad.

"We in the task force tell them that those who completed quarantine already should be allowed to go directly to their houses," said Dulay.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is having "daily discussions" with the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to smooth out these hitches.

So far, the government has repatriated 19,466 OFWs, said Dulay. These include 15,130 seafarers from 75 cruise ships.

All OFWs must spend 14 days in designated quarantine facilities, like the World Trade Center in Pasay City, as soon as they arrive in the Philippines. – Rappler.com