Cash aid extended to 86,000 OFWs, more than half of target — DOLE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — Nearly 86,000 overseas Filipino workers have been granted the one-time ₱10,000 ($200) financial assistance with the Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program amid the coronavirus crisis, the Department of Labor and Employment said Sunday.

The DOLE said it has received a total of 336,809 applications for cash aid from both stranded and evacuated OFWs as of May 1, according to its Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs).

According to a press statement, some 85,849 land and sea-based workers have already been approved. There were 54,602 OFWs evaluated by the POLOs, while the remaining 31,247 were assessed by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The DOLE highlighted that it has already extended assistance to more than 50 percent of its target beneficiaries, which is 150,000 OFWs.

The department has now spent a total of ₱482.9 million on 47,239 qualified OFWs, it said.

Meanwhile, the POLOs have so far disbursed ₱275.6 million to some 26,500 Filipino workers abroad, which is 40 percent of its allocated budget for the project.

As for repatriated workers, or beneficiaries of the Balik-Manggagawa program, the OWWA has already approved 31,247 applicants. There were 20,739 OFWs who have benefited, as the department released ₱207.3 million, or about 41 percent of its allotted cash aid.

The DOLE reiterated that Filipino migrant workers, who were evacuated for having been infected or suspected to have contracted the coronavirus disease, are likewise eligible for the financial program. OFWs who are under a "no work, no pay" arrangement are also qualified, it said.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello earlier announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the release of a ₱1.5-billion fund for the department to be able to support overseas Filipino workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.