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Akap handout for displaced OFWs remains suspended

28 August 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Many of those who line up at the Polo offices are stranded workers applying for financial help

The distribution of the US$200 “Akap” financial assistance from the Philippine government called to overseas Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic in Hong Kong remains suspended because funding has dried up.

This is according to Assistant Labor Attache Angelica Sunga, in response to queries and complaints from some overseas Filipino workers who were told starting on Aug 13 that the applications to the cash assistance had been stopped temporarily.

“We are still waiting for the requested additional funding which will be allocated for the pending approved applications,” ALA Sunga told The SUN.


She said all applications were temporarily suspended as of the same day as they were awaiting new guidelines from the Department of Labor and Employment in the Philippines on how to dispense the fund.

Sunga said the Akap fund, which used to be disbursed by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong, will now be transferred to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

She said then that they were hoping to start accepting applications again after a week, but this did not happen, most likely because the supplemental funding has yet to come through.

ALA Angel says application for Akap will open again once fresh funding is received from Manila
When asked about recent post by an OFW who claimed to have just received her Akap payout, Sunga said the worker probably did not immediately pick up the money that had been sent through the bank before the suspension.

She also verified reports that some applicants who were desperate to get the money were offered $500, but said this was just to tide them over. She said the OFWs could still file a claim for the full Akap fund when they get back to the Philippines.

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One of those who have been waiting to get the financial assistance is Baby Jean de Leon, who was forced to quit her job three months ago, but only recently decided to apply for Akap.

De Leon, who is an active community leader and administrator of the online group, Domestic Workers Corner, said the financial assistance which converts to $1,540, would be a big help as she had to spend a lot for food and lodging while waiting for her new work visa.
Another hopeful applicant is Kate, who was forced to call in the police on Aug 3 after being prevented from taking a day off since she arrived in Hong Kong in January.

Kate is struggling to make ends meet while pursuing her labour claim against her former employer. She has also filed a report with Immigration for her forced detention and the alleged verbal abuse she suffered at the hands of her elderly employer and her married son.
With Philippine Congress having finally approved the Bayanihan 2 funding that the government had requested to respond to the continuing backlash from the pandemic, their wait might be over soon.

Of the Php140billion that will be made available for use by the government under this law, Php820million has been allocated for helping overseas Filipino workers.
The next week or so will show whether this money will trickle overseas, specifically to OFWs in Hong Kong who remain stranded, or are desperately trying to stay so they can move on to new jobs and continue providing for their families back home.




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