MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Friday it has provided cash assistance to 43,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the agency received over 223,000 applications for the assistance, but only 150,000 OFWs were expected to benefit from the P1.5-billion budget of the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.
“Ang problema… as of yesterday, ang nag-apply ay 223,000 na, lampas na sa 150,000. Medyo kinabahan kami,” he told radio DZMM.
(The problem... as of yesterday, 223,000 people have applied, already over 150,000. We got a bit nervous.)
Applicants qualified for a one-time $200 or P10,000 financial assistance, the labor chief said, are those who lost jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis.
To date, some 21,000 sea-based OFWs and 15,000 land-based OFWs were repatriated due to the COVID-19 crisis, he revealed.
Bello said the agency might request for additional funding from the national government for its AKAP program.
As of Friday, the number of Filipinos abroad diagnosed with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) reached nearly 1,200.
Of the total, 689 Filipinos are undergoing treatment while 319 of them have recovered or were discharged from hospital. The remaining 177 died of the disease.