MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Department of Labor and Employment on Friday forged an agreement that would give a one-time P30,000 assistance to college-level kids of overseas Filipino workers who were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
CHED's Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are behind the project, which allocates a P1 billion budget for the financial assistance.
The project, titled "Tabang OFW," is expected to help some 30,000 students, CHEd chairman Prospero De Vera said in an online press briefing after signing the agreement, Friday.
"One of the concerns that has been repeatedly raised [is] that enrollment will decline because of the economic situation. 'Yan ang napapagusapan sa aming discussions before so ito ang isa sa mga sagot ng Unifast (This was discussed before and this is one of Unifast's solutions to the problem)," De Vera said.
One dependent per OFW family will benefit from the program. Possible beneficiaries are required to provide certification that they are a student of the institution they are enrolled in.
Meanwhile, money will be disbursed through the Labor department's regional offices.These will be released as soon as they identify the qualified beneficiaries.
The financial assistance will be rolled out "as fast as we can," De Vera added.
"Itong P1 billion ay napakalaking-dagdag sa ating programa," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said during the memorandum signing, noting that the government also has a scholarship program for families of displaced overseas Filipino workers.
(This P1 billion is a huge addition to our program.)
President Rodrigo Duterte spoke about the program in his State of the Nation Address, saying the government would give the assistance to dependents of "displaced, non-returning, repatriated or deceased OFWs due to COVID-19."
As of the end of August this year, some 157,000 OFWs have been repatriated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the virus crippled jobs and industries across the globe and caused massive lay-offs in companies, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.