OWWA to roll out group livelihood program for OFWs next month
Marje Pelayo • August 26, 2020 • 1069
MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been affecting millions of Filipinos including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Based on data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) presented by the Senate Committee on Labor Joel Villanueva in Tuesday’s (August 25) hearing, over 300,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic.
With this, Senator Imee Marcos called for an increase in the credit assistance allowable for OFWs from the proposed P50,000 to P100,000.
However, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said they will not be able to accommodate up to 200,000 OFWs who may avail of the assistance.
According to Cacdac, they may organize a business plan competition wherein they would choose the best business plan from participating OFWs who will be granted the benefits of the program.
OWWA is currently offering a repatriation grant under the micro startups for distressed workers worth P20,000.
Cacdac explained that 70 percent of those who availed the loan have committed the money to investments.
However, they have no data on the success rate of their businesses.
“Hindi tayo sigurado whether or not nag-prosper ang negosyo na iyon. We do have success stories. We do identify iyong success stories. We give them recognition but we do not have the full-pledged data, the complete data as to our success rate,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said.
Next month, OWWA is set to launch a group livelihood program wherein groups of OFWs may borrow from P150,000 to P1 million.
“Ang isang nakikita kasi namin, batay sa karanasan, malaki ang tsansa ng tagumpay kung grupo,” Cacdac explained.
“Kaya ang napagpasyahan ng OWWA Board, ay i-encourage ang group livelihood programs lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya. Baka mas matibay ang negosyo kung grupo po sila,” he added.
Cacdac also said that 60 percent of the 165,000 repatriated OFWs who have returned to their home regions, have applied for DOLE’s AKAP program which is a one-time cash assistance of P10,000.
OWWA targets to complete the distribution of aid to remaining OFWs from the supplemental budget it has received and the fund allocation from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
Meanwhile, the labor department added that it has been updating its database and the profiling of repatriated OFWs for the matching of skills to help them find a new job in the country.
DOLE Undersecretary Joji Aragon said they are expecting the business process outsourcing or the BPO industry to absorb most of the OFWs, noting that 90-92 percent of the industry have already recovered from the effects of the pandemic. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.
Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.
The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Saturday, DOLE said.
Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.
Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.
So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.
AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.
Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.
To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.
MANILA, Philippines — Around 9,500 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stay in quarantine hotels in Metro Manila at present.
According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, around 1,800 OFWs were allowed to return to their respective hometowns on Monday (March 22).
The official said there were delays in the releasing of COVID-19 swab test results which prolonged their stay in the quarantine facility.
“Nag-stabilize na po ang situwasyon kasi noong mga huling araw lang nagkaroon ng system adjustment or breakdown yung ilang machines ng Red Cross, iyong nagpa-process ng specimen kaya’t may mga naantala sa hotels pero nagno-normalize na po ang situation,” Cacdac said.
At present, the occupancy rate in quarantine hotels is now at 85%.
He said the government’s order to limit international arrivals to 1,500 per day gives them time to release more OFWs from hotels to their hometowns.
Quarantine periods in hotels now last until seven to nine days as compared to the previous duration of one to three days only.
Earlier procedures would have OFWs undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival. This process, however, had been modified and OFWs have to wait for five days before they could get tested.
Cacdac said that such a change in quarantine procedure caused them to spend more for the accommodation of returning OFWs.
“So na-triple, kuwadruple pa nga ang paglagi nila sa hotel and therefore pati ang gastos. So from mga 10 million (pesos) a day umakyat na sa mga 30 million (pesos) a day ang gastos natin sa hotel,” the official said.
For now, the official said the agency can still provide for the expenses in terms of transportation and accommodation of returning OFWs.
But the agency is still asking the government for a P9,8 billion pesos additional budget given that the available fund of P6.2 billion pesos may be sufficient only until April or May.
OWWA stressed that 50% of returning OFWs at this time are vacationers and whose overseas employments are not affected by the pandemic. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines — Around 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are now under quarantine in around 140 hotels in the country.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said such a volume of OFW occupants is due to the extension of the quarantine period to eight up to nine days from one to three days in the past.
Such extension followed the changes in the protocol on COVID-19 testing for returning OFWs.
In the past, OFWs were being tested for swab samples upon arrival at the airport.
But that changed and they needed to stay at the quarantine hotel and wait for the fifth day to get tested, as this procedure is deemed more effective.
“Kaya nga we resorted to budget hotels and facilities kasi nga na-overwhelm na yung mga hotels natin dito sa Metro Manila,” said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
The official explained that their budget is depleting as they need to spend about P30-M a day for the quarantine procedures apart from the transportation expenses of ferrying returning OFWs to the hotel from the airport.
“As a result talagang challenged ang funds natin ngayon and we project na by April and May ay mauubos yung 2021 Budget, yung P6.2 Billion,” Cacdac said.
The official said they have notified the Department of Budget and Management of the situation and requested for additional budget.
The agency recorded around 470,000 OFWs who returned to the country since the start of the pandemic and is expecting to receive 100,000 more this year. –MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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