More than 230,000 overseas Filipino workers affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic are seeking cash assistance from the government, exceeding the set target of 150,000 beneficiaries for the P1.5 billion AKAP aid fund, the labor department reported on Sunday.
It said a request for supplemental budget is being eyed to be able to provide more OFWs with the needed emergency assistance.
At the same time, DOLE said locally displaced workers ballooned to over two million leading to an extended community quarantine to arrest the spread of the virus, while the number of displaced OFWs now nearing 100,000.
Based on reports by the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in 40 posts across the globe, a total of 89,436 OFWs were either displaced or on a no-work, no-pay status due to lockdowns and slowdown of businesses in host countries.
As of April 24, the POLOs and the local offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) already received 233,015 requests for assistance under the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program – AKAP emergency fund that provides a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid to qualified OFWs.
DOLE said of the total number of requests, 118,134 were received by POLOs from workers onsite while the remainder were submitted by repatriated OFWs to OWWA and DOLE regional offices in the country.
It also said that among those seeking assistance, 49,040 OFWs are already set to receive the cash aid after having met the requirements. They were processed within 10 working days since the release of the AKAP funds on April 9.
Those eligible come equally from both land and sea-based workers, DOLE added.
Of those already getting the cash aid, close to 34,000 are onsite OFWs or those still staying in host countries despite the lockdowns, while more than 15,000 have already been repatriated or those returning OFWs unable to depart to their country of destination.
DOLE also reported that OWWA and the POLOs had assisted 36,385 repatriated OFWs since the onset of the health crisis.
On local work displacement, meanwhile, DOLE said it had disbursed P1.7 billion of its regular funds to finance the one-time assistance of P5,000 under CAMP to 345,865 formal sector workers. Another 259,449 informal sector workers benefitted from the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK) program amounting to P1.14 billion also from DOLE’s 2020 budget.
On April 15, DOLE stopped accepting requests for assistance under CAMP after having been swamped with volumes of applications quickly depleting its measly regular assistance fund.
Reports from DOLE regional offices showed a continued swelling of the number of displaced workers. From 79,271 establishment reports submitted as of April 24, affected workers ballooned further to 2,073,362 nationwide.
Almost 1.4 million workers were displaced due to temporary closures while more than 687,000 had reduced incomes under alternative work arrangements like less workdays, rotation, forced leave and telecommuting.
About 90 percent of establishments which reported work displacements are seeking the CAMP assistance for their workers.
The National Capital Region recorded the highest displacement figure with 687,634 workers, followed by Central Luzon at 281,278 and Davao Region with 207,789.
Calabarzon reported 158,646 workers; Region 10 with 106,162; followed by Region 2 at 88,531; Central Visayas with 86,767; MIMAROPA at 74,533; Region 6 with 65,892 and the Bicol region with 65,757.
CAR recorded 63,957 workers, Region 8 with 49,362 and CARAGA at 39,711.
The areas with the least affected workers are Region 9 with 37,683; Region 1 at 32,017 and Region 12 with 27,643.