MANILA (UPDATE) -- An additional P1 billion will be deployed to provide cash aid to overseas Filipino workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Thursday.
The amount is part of the P2.5 billion supplemental funding request of the Department of Labor and Employment, Bello said.
"We will try to live within the limit of P1 billion. Ang mahalaga, hangga't may pera, we continue to accept applications," he said in a virtual press briefing.
(What's important is as long as there are funds, we continue to accept applications.)
The additional funds will be used to provide a $200 (P10,000) cash aid to OFWs under the labor department's Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong program, which initially had a budget of P1.5 billion.
So far, out of more than 400,000 migrant workers who applied for a subsidy only around 100,000 are qualified according to Bello.
For OFWs who are stuck in the Philippines due to the coronavirus crisis, Bello said the labor department would provide them with a minimum of P20,000 cash assistance so they could put up small businesses.
"Bibigyan namin sila ng livelihood projects, mamili sila ng mga negosyo, halimbawa, mag-put up sila ng karinderya, mag-put up ng sari-sari store, magtanim ng ganito, magtanim ng ganoon," he said.
(We will give them livelihood projects. They can choose to put up a small business like an eatery, sari-sari store, or farming.)
Those who would need more funds can avail of interest-free loans, he added.
"Iyon po ang aming tina-target, iyong mga OFW na bumalik dahil nawalan sila ng trabaho abroad. We will try to provide them with livelihood assistance," Bello said.
(We aim to help OFWs who had to return to the Philippines because they lost their jobs abroad.)