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‘Akap’ fund applications re-open for OFWs hit by pandemic

30 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Labatt Dizon at the Polo website launch where he announced the resumption of Akap fund processing

Applications for cash assistance through the “Akap” (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) program of the Department of Labor and Employment for overseas Filipino workers whose employment have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, are now being accepted again.

This was according to Labor Attache Mel Dizon, who announced during the launch of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office website on Sunday, Nov 29, that funds for the program have been replenished after the passage of the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act 2.”

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The law, officially designated as Republic Act No 11494 and enacted last September, granted President Rodrigo Duterte additional authority and funds to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines.

“In the recent law that was passed they already approved again (funding) for Dole Akap,” said Labatt Dizon.

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“So now we can now process again the applications for one-time financial assistance to those who are qualified.”

Three conditions must be met before the USD200 (HK$1,556) cash aid can be granted to an OFW applicant, said Dizon.

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First, the OFW must either be a 1) documented worker; 2) undocumented but qualified; 3) stranded in the Philippines because of travel restrictions imposed by the host country.

Second, the worker must have been terminated or temporarily lost income because of Covid-related reasons. This could include getting sick with Covid-19, or if the worker is released by an employer who likewise became jobless due to the pandemic.

OFWs stranded at Manila airport by flight restrictions received cash aid from OWWA

In a follow-up talk with Dizon afterwards, he said it was important that an applicant presents proof that he or she became unemployed due to the pandemic, as government auditors are strict in ensuring that the fund is disbursed according to the rules.

The third requirement is that the applicant must not have availed of a cash assistance due to the pandemic from either Dole-Akap or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

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When the contagion was at its early stage, the Philippines stopped many OFWs from leaving for their jobs abroad, particularly those bound for China, Hong Kong, Macau, and even Taiwan, leaving scores of them stranded in Manila.

OWWA provided the stranded OFWs with cash aid, and even transportation fare for their return flights back to their home provinces.

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The Akap cash disbursement in Hong Kong had previously been suspended twice after funds sent by Dole in Manila had run out.

Those who wish to apply for the cash aid and are qualified must log on to ww.dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph, fill up the online application and attach the required documents. They should then obtain the one-time pin (OTP) that will serve as reference in monitoring the status of the application.

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The required documents are:

(1) passport or travel document;

(2) proof of overseas employment, including OEC copy, Balik Manggagawa Online (BMO) certificate, visa, etc;

(3) proof of loss of employment due to Covid-19, such as notice or certificate of termination by employer or recruitment agency, or the worker’s own “salaysay” or statement

(4) proof of return to the Philippines (for those who are back home during the time of application; and

(5) in case of stranded OFWs, requirements 1-3 and return ticket and valid employment visa

For more information, check out Polo Hong Kong's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/POLOHONGKONGSAR/photos/pcb.3215365828580746/3215360865247909

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