MANILA - The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has assisted some 16,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were stranded in Luzon due to the coronavirus-triggered enhanced community quarantine, its administrator said Saturday.
“Binibigyan natin ng hotel facilities ang lahat ng OFWs na nanumbalik sa Pilipinas,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said during the “Laging Handa” public briefing, referring to migrant workers who had flown back to the country but could not go straight to their homes because of the lockdown.
(We are providing hotel accommodation to all OFWs who have returned to the Philippines.)
According to OWWA’s latest data, some 4,258 OFWs were provided with free transportation, 3,965 were given temporary shelter, 3,743 seafarers were provided with food packs and 1,003 OFWs in the regions were provided with food, accommodation and transportation.
Some 107 OFWs who have completed the 14-day mandatory quarantine were already transported to their respective provinces, OWWA data showed.
A seafarers' group has recently criticized the alleged double standard of the agency over the treatment of repatriated Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
During the virtual press briefing, a migrant worker from Dubai told OWWA that he received complaints from repatriated OFWs regarding their accommodations.
Glenn Llaguno said some OFWs were reportedly sharing a single room, raising concerns on their safety and properly implementing physical distancing.
Cacdac, however, maintained that stranded OFWs were staying in single-occupancy rooms.
“Rest assured po pagdating ninyo rito ay single occupancy po ang ating io-observe,” he said.
(Rest assured that when you arrive here you will be staying in single-occupancy rooms.)
Meanwhile, Cacdac revealed that OWWA, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), has so far received 45,000 applications for the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.
OFWs who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis are entitled to a one-time $200 or P10,000 financial assistance.
“Patuloy pa rin ang ating fund releases. Kamakailan lang, nagbigay ng instructions si [DOLE] Secretary [Silvestre] Bello na gawing flexible ang requirements. Huwag masyadong stringent. Patuloy nating pinapabilis ang proseso,” Cacdac said.
(The fund releases continue. Just recently, Secretary Bello gave instructions to make the requirements flexible. It's too stringent. We continue to speed up the process.)
As of Friday, the DOLE has given cash aid to some 43,000 OFWs, Bello said in an earlier interview.