DOLE seeks additional P9.8-B budget for quarantine costs of OFWs
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking an additional budget of P9.8 billion to fund the quarantine accommodation expenses of returning overseas Filipino workers.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in an online press briefing that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III wrote to Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado to request the additional funds.
He said Bello wrote the letter as a preemptive measure as labor authorities project that the P6.2-billion budget for the hotel, transportation, and food expenses of returning OFWs under the 2021 General Appropriations Act could run out by April or May.
“Sec. Bello wrote to Sec. Avisado as a preemptive measure para magkaroon ng supplemental funding from the national government [so we can have supplemental funding from the national government],” Cacdac said.
“The remainder of the year ‘yun so P9.8 billion ang hinihingi [That is for the remainder of the year so we are asking for P9.8 billion]. But that is subject to the condition that the same conditions prevail,” he said, referring to current protocols on Covid-19 testing and quarantine for OFWs upon arrival to the country.
More than 470,000 OFWs who have been displaced because of the pandemic have already been repatriated by the Philippine government, according to Cacdac.
He added that there are 80,000 to 100,000 OFWs still awaiting repatriation.
According to Cacdac, the DOLE needs additional funding for returning OFWs since the agency would have to host them for at least six days, a period higher compared to the previous one to three days of accommodation before the entry of new SARS-CoV-2 variants in the country.
According to Cacdac, the DOLE is coordinating with the Department of Budget and Management to discuss the reasons behind the supplemental budget it is proposing.