February 6, 2023

The government continuously aids overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families amid the Covid-19 pandemic through provision of financial assistance and facilitation of their return to their families.

At the Benguet Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) meeting recently, Windelyn Marquez, OIC of the Program and Services Division of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-Cordillera, reported the OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment Cordillera released P33.74 million to 3,352 OFWs who were stranded in the country following the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine in March, while 22 dependents of OFWs received educational assistance.

From the amount, P33.52M was released under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program and P220,000 was released under the Education Assistance through Scholarship in Emergencies (EASE).

Marquez said OWWA has released P13.55M for both programs while the DOLE-Cordillera has released P20.19M for the AKAP as of Oct. 23.

She said under the AKAP program, the fund was released in five tranches as the agencies continued to process the eligibility of OFWs to the P10,000 one-time assistance.

She said there were 4,208 applications received, 3,483 of which were approved and 157 are under evaluation.

There were 1,456 OFWs from Baguio who benefited from the assistance. Abra has 526, Benguet has 724, Apayao has 103, Ifugao has 195, Kalinga has 242, and Mountain Province has 106.

Dependents of the OFWs also received P10,000 this year that will be stretched for four years under the EASE program.

As of Oct. 25, there are 22 beneficiaries who received P10,000 assistance from OWWA amounting to P220,000.

Aside from the monetary assistance, the OWWA also facilitated the return of 4,841 OFWs who were stranded in Metro Manila to their respective hometowns in the Cordillera.

Marquez also reported they have facilitated the return of 1,108 residents to the province from May 1 to Oct. 25. About 994 of them arrived on board the sweeper buses provided by the OWWA under the Uwian na program for returning OFWs. – PNA