The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary, Silvestre Bello III, said in an interview that an additional P1 billion cash aid will be used to provide financial assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who were affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The said amount is part of the P2.5 billion supplemental funding request of the Labor department, which will be used to provide a $200 or P10,000 financial aid to OFWs under DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong program (AKAP). It actually had an initial budget of P1.5 billion.
DBM approving the budget
In addition to that, Belo said that what they’re asking for is the P2.5 billion budget. However, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved the budget of P1 billion; hence, the additional P1 billion for OFWs’ financial aid.
As per Bello, they will try to live within P1 billion as the budget. Moreover, he said that what’s important is that there’s a budget for it.
[A]ng hinihingi naming dagdag-pondo ay ₱2.5 billion, pero ang pinadala lang is ₱1 billion. We will try to live within the limit of P1 billion. Ang mahalaga, hangga’t may pera, we continue to accept applications.”
In Translation: What we were asking for is an additional funds of P2.5 billion; but they only approved P1 billion. We will try to live within the limit of that. What’s important it that we have money; if we continue to do so, we will continue to accept applications.
Insufficiency of funds
According to the labor chief, the DBM gave the DOLE a budget of P15 billion for the cash aid of OFWs. However, with the estimation that only 150,000 out of the 400,000 overseas workers are qualified for the said subsidy, they fell short because a total of about 411,000 OFWs applied for the program.
Moreover, among that total number of applications, only about 100,000 have already been approved. That doesn’t mean that every other applications would not be approved — they’re still in the process.
Can you apply for the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program?
Who can apply for the said program? Would be the additional P1 billion for OFWs’ financial aid be enough to support everyone?
Should you be interested in finding out more information about this, you can refer to this article here: The DOLE Coronavirus Assistance, Can be Taken Advantage of by OFWs and Repatriated OFWs
To provide a bit of insight as to how the program goes, the program is open to OFWs who are land-based and sea-based workers. Furthermore, the cash assistance that they’ll be able to receive wold be $200 or P10,000 in our currency.
Post-COVID-19 recovery plan
The government assistance does not end there; as a matter of fact, Belo said that they’ll provide some type of livelihood assistance to OFWs even after the spew of the pandemic. He said that they’ll focus on OFWs who were sent home as well as those who were not able to leave again.
We will focus on yung ating OFWs na nakauwi at yung mga hindi nakaalis. Bibigyan namin sila ng livelihood project. Mamili sila ng mga negosyo. Halimbawa, mag-put up sila ng karinderya, mag-put up ng sari-sari store, magtanim ng ganito, magtanim ng ganon.”
In Translation: We will focus on our OFWs who were sent back home as well as those who were not able to leave. We will give them a livelihood project. They’ll choose from the different business. For example, they’ll put up and establish a carinderia, a sari-sari store, planting crops or anything.
He continued to say that they’ll provide these OFWs with P20,000-worth of cash assistance for the livelihood program. If in any case they’ll need a bigger amount, they can secure a loan from DOLE without worrying about interests; it will be interest-free.
Alternative cash aids
Other DOLE programs that benefited the supplemental funding from Department of Budget and
Management (DBM) and Office of the President are the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program
(CAMP), and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Sanitation Project.
As you may have seen, the Philippine government is setting up quite a lot of different projects for our countrymen. Could the additional P1 billion for OFWs’ financial aid be added benefits to them due to the threat of the pandemic? Or should the government concoct more formulas to improve their cash aids to OFWs?
Let’s wait for other programs as well as financial and cash aids that would be sent out by the Philippine government — not just for our OFWs but also for everyone.