Some 90,000 OFWs yet to receive COVID-19 aid from DOLE: Villanueva

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 03:57 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2020 04:09 PM

Repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) wait in line at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 in Pasay City on May 25, 2020. The balikbayans are scheduled to take their flights to their respective home provinces after undergoing mandatory quarantine in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Around 90,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have yet to receive financial aid from the government, Sen. Joel Villanueva said Tuesday as he sought for a "labor audit" to show the "real situation" of workers during the pandemic.

Under the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) P2.5-billion Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong sa OFWs (AKAP) program, only 64.1 percent of the 250,000 beneficiaries have received aid, Villanueva said in an online press conference.

"That's what we're shooting for - a labor audit. We want to find out how many workers are affected, and how many will be affected [by the crisis]," said Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

"Gusto natin malaman yung real situation ng ating labor sector, ng ating work force," he said, noting that several OFWs have been scavenging abroad to survive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

(We want to know the real situation of our labor sector, of our work force.)

The government needs to care for OFWs or risk losing a chunk of the $30.13-billion (P1.51 trillion) they remit to the country, Villanueva said, citing data from 2019.

"This 2020, if we are looking at the way the trend is going... at least 20 percent decrease or about $6 billion (P300.78 billion) ang mawawala... lalo na kung hindi natin sila maaalagaan," he said.

(This 2020, if we are looking at the way the trend is going... that will be decreased by 20 percent or we lose at least $6 billion if we do not care for our OFWs.)

Labor officials are expected to attend a hybrid Senate hearing on Wednesday to explain what hindered the government's distribution of aid to OFWs.

Despite the DOLE's failure to hit the target OFW beneficiaries during the pandemic, the senator lauded the agency for nearly completing its assistance programs for Philippine-based workers in the formal and informal sectors.

Aside from cash aid programs for workers during the COVID-19 crisis, the Senate will also tackle 7 resolutions and 5 bills that seek to inquire about the government's labor policies during the global crisis.