P2.5B spent as cash aid for 245,000 displaced OFWs — DOLE
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has so far spent P2.5 billion to about 245,000 overseas Filipino workers displaced by the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“Talking about AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) program, we have already spent P2.5 billion extended to about 245,000 OFWs,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during the budget hearing of DOLE at the House committee on appropriations.
Bello said P5 billion was previously allocated to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for the repatriation expenses of displaced OFWs, including the P1 billion for the continuation of the AKAP program.
He said DOLE is hoping to have an additional budget for the initiative in 2021 to further aid displaced OFWs as the current funding may still be not enough, citing the large number of Filipinos working abroad whose jobs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the additional P1 billion allocated by the Department of Budget and Management for the AKAP program, P400 million will be spent for the third quarter of 2020 and P600 million will be spent for the fourth quarter, according to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
He said the distribution of cash assistance is ongoing for the third quarter, using cash remittance or the banking system.
“As we speak, our regional welfare offices are already working with pending applications, so with the 400 million we are hoping to cover 40,000 more,” he added.
“Dito sa Bayanihan (to Recover as One Act) meron na namang allocation doon. Malaki po ang pasalamat natin sa liderato ng Kongreso patungkol doon sa Bayanihan 2, so we are expecting a so-called fourth tranche very soon with respect to DOLE-AKAP,” Cacdac said.
(Here in the Bayanihan 2, there will also be another allocation. We are really thankful to the leadership of the Congress. We are expecting a so-called fourth-tranche soon for DOLE-AKAP.)
Under the DOLE-AKAP program, a one-time financial assistance of P10,000 or $200 will be given to OFWs whose employment were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed 2021 budget for DOLE is at P27.5 billion, as part of the P4.506 trillion proposed national budget for next year, according to the National Expenditure Program submitted by the DBM to Congress.
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