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Polo to again start handing out Akap cash relief from tomorrow

07 December 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Displaced or stranded OFWs lining up for cash aid from Polo/OWWA earlier this year

Qualified Filipino domestic workers with pending applications for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Abot-Kaya ang Pagtulong (Akap) assistance fund will start receiving their USD200 cash aid from tomorrow.

This was announced by Labor Attache Mel Dizon during a talk with a group of Filipino community leaders at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office yesterday, Dec 6.

As Dec 8 has been declared as a non-working holiday by the Philippine Consulate, no public transactions will be entertained at Polo tomorrow. But Assistant Labor Attache Angelica Sunga said they will open “exclusively for the release of funds.”

Pindutin para sa detalye

Labatt Dizon said Hong Kong’s Akap fund was replenished recently after Philippine lawmakers passed the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which released additional funds to the government for pandemic relief.

But he said that the additional fund only covers 1,000 qualified overseas Filipino workers, so the cash distribution will again stop once the money has been used up.

Kapag naubos yun, tigil na naman tayo ulit,” he said. (Once that’s been used up, we will have to stop distributing the cash aid again).

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But if he sees that there are still many qualified applicants who didn’t make the cut, Dizon said he will again request the Dole head office for additional funds.

This is the third cash replenishment from the Dole-Akap program for OFWs who either lost their jobs or were adversely affected by the pandemic, including those who were stricken with Covid-19 or were stranded by lack of flights or travel restrictions.

Labatt Dizon during the meeting with Filcom support groups

Dizon again reminded OFWs that only those whose job loss or displacement was directly caused by Covid could qualify for Akap.


Asked by Dolores Balladares-Pelaez how many new applicants could be covered, given that there were already hundreds of pending applications, the labor chief said about 500 more could be accommodated.

ALA Angel, who was also in the meeting, said the number could still increase because some of those who filed applications before had already gone home, and should therefore pursue their claims in the Philippines.

Their slots could then be given to new applicants who meet the requirements.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Dizon also again reiterated that the cash assistance from Dole and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are one-off benefits, meaning those who had been granted relief by either agency could no longer qualify for Akap.

Asked by Pelaez if it was possible for stranded OFWs whose job loss was not due to Covid to get financial help from the government, Dizon said OWWA has been giving out small sums as emergency assistance in such cases.

Welfare officer Virsie Tamayao confirmed this, but said the cash aid was need-based, unlike Akap which is available to anyone who meets the prescribed requirements.

Tamayao said applicants to the OWWA fund are interviewed, and an assessment is made to determine if they really need help.


But she said the fund is limited so that in the past, she would even refer cases to the Department of Social Welfare attaché or the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, which each has a cash allotment for OFWs in desperate need for help.

The requirements and qualifications of Akap applicants are specified in two forms that they must fill up, and are downloadable from the Polo website (

In the first form, the applicant is asked to fill up certain personal and work details. The  second  is an “attestation form” in which the OFW declares that the loss of job is Covid-related, and is confirmed by the employer or agent signing at the end.

To protests by the leaders that this was an unrealistic requirement, given that in many cases of termination, the employer or agent is hostile, Dizon said this last portion could be ignored. The worker could just make her own “salaysay” or statement detailing how the pandemic had led to her job loss or displacement.

A volunteer unpacks the food delivery for quarantined OFWs in a hotel

Also discussed during the meeting was the "ayuda"or cash/food donations requested by newly arrived OFWs who are under quarantine, and are not provided with enough provisions by their employers.

Dizon said it is the primary responsibility of the employer or the agency to ensure the well-being of the quarantined OFW. The Polo or the Consulate steps in only in cases of emergency, if neither of the two parties can be held to account.

Groups or individuals who are asked for help by any quarantined OFWs should forward the information through a chat group between the PCG/Polo and some Filcom leaders so the concerned agency can be alerted.


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