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OFWs hit by pandemic to get US$200 cash aid, says Dole

26 March 2020

By The SUN


OFWs line up by the hundreds at the PCG for services amid the pandemic

Overseas Filipino workers who are eagerly looking forward to a US$200 cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment for those “displaced” by the coronavirus pandemic should not rejoice this early.

That’s because Dole has yet to issue the guidelines for the financial aid, announced on Mar 25 by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

According to Secretary Bello, the cash assistance will be given to about 70,000 OFWs whose works were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he did not specify the kind of disruption that would entitle an OFW to the doleout.

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Welfare officer Virsie Tamayao of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Hong Kong supplied the missing information, saying the money is meant for “medical assistance and after-care needs of discharged Covid-19 patients.”

That clearly left out those wishing to get some help after they lost their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak, or had to go without pay for weeks when they got stranded in the Philippines because of the government’s travel ban to Hong Kong.

Dolores Balladares, chairperson of United Filipinos-Migrante Hong Kong said the idea of giving financial help is good because it is timely.


“Ok naman ito sa temporary relief, pero ang tanong, me guidelines na ba? Paano makukuha, sino ang qualified? Dyan lagi nagkakatalo. In the end, may inilabas ngang pera pero hindi naman napakinabangan ng mas maraming affected,” said Balladares.

She suggested that the process for claiming the aid be made easier, and the requirements fewer. But ultimately, she said what OFWs need is help in the longer term, like being given a job that will sustain their family.

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Balladares also cast doubt on the number of OFWs that are supposed to benefit from the scheme.

“Kasi noon pa man, ang mga biktima ng virus sa luxury cruise liners di naman nabigyan ng konkretong tulong,” she said.
 
Balladares says clear guidelines should be issued for those who want to apply for the cash aid
To avail of aid under the program, OFWs must submit their certificate of employment issued by their agencies. Their application will be evaluated and processed by Polo in the place where they are based, or if they are in the Philippines, at the nearest OWWA regional office.

In the Philippines, Bello said about 212,718 workers have lost their jobs due to the rapidly spreading Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
“Now, of the total Php1.5 billion available assistance package of the Department, we have initially released Php35 million to affected workers, both those in the formal and informal sectors,” he added.

He said Dole is now fast-tracking the processing of requirements submitted by companies in order to immediately provide assistance to affected employees.

“We hope to cover at least 50% of those affected by next week,” Bello added.

Bello also urged privately-owned companies to apply to Dole’s Covid-19 Adjustment Measure Program, which offers a one-time Php5,000 financial support for those that have adopted flexible work arrangements, or have temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

“To avail of the assistance, employers must submit their company payroll for February or earlier, which is before the implementation of flexible working arrangements or temporary closure,” he said.
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