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More displaced workers queue up for help at OWWA

20 July 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao
Displaced workers line up to get financial help or a slot in confirmed flights arranged by the Consulate

About three dozen dismissed Filipino domestic workers lined up this morning, Jul 20, at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to apply for emergency cash assistance or seek a slot on the next flight home arranged by the Consulate.

Most of the workers who were gathered in the Polo conference room said their contracts had been terminated by their employers more than a month ago. Some are still looking for prospective employers, while the others are resigned to go home.

At least one helper said she initiated the termination of her contract because she could not withstand her working conditions. Luckily, she has found a new employer and is flying home to see her family before starting her new job.
By noon, more than 30 workers had already approached the Polo and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration for the DOLE Akap cash aid and the flight registration.

At about the same time, displaced OFWs continued to trickle into the premises enquiring about the $300 financial help that Owwa gives to those who don’t have money for food or transportation.


But it’s not clear who is entitled to the so-called “ayuda” as there are no published guidelines, although a team within Owwa reportedly decides on who should get it.
Many are stuck in HK because of repeated cancellations of their flights to Manila
The others in the queue were enquiring about the group flights arranged by the Consulate and Owwa to ensure that those who want to fly home don’t get stuck in Hong Kong indefinitely because of frequent flight cancellations.

Among those at Owwa’s offices on the 16th floor this morning were two elderly women who said they had worked in Hong Kong for more than three decades.

Rita, a 62-year-old helper with driving duties, was terminated by her employer after she was booked by the police for careless driving. She booked a flight home on Aug 3 but it was cancelled.

She said she should have been on the flight that left this morning but she failed to pick up the phone when Owwa called to inform her of her booking. She is now hoping to get onto the next flight tentatively set for Jul 23.

Her voyage home on the next special flight home would end her 31 years of working in Hong Kong.

Another long-timer in the city is 65-year-old Manang, who was terminated on Jun 15 when she shouted back at her British male employer who berated her. Manang said he was the worst employer she ever had since arriving here in 1984.

“Dito na ako nagdalaga at tumanda,” the Ilocana from Tarlac, who would not give her name, said in jest.

This morning, Manang was at Polo to accompany three other Ilocana helpers who were also dismissed by their employers and were seeking the US$200 Akap financial assistance for OFWs displaced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nabigyan na ako ng DOLE Akap,” she said, adding that she had also received food allowance from Owwa.

Manang and her three companions are staying for free in a Christian shelter in Jordan where they cook their own food while they await a new employer to sign them up, or when they, too, will have to fly home. 

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