OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) from 29 countries will be given priority in the distribution of a one-time financial assistance of P10,000 by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they have already identified the 29 countries.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) or the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (Polo) will release the cash assistance under the "Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong" (Akap) program.
"Owwa and the Polo will now start the processing and evaluation of the qualified DOLE-AKAP recipients, especially in countries that are heavily affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic," said Bello.
The priority Middle East countries are Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.
For the Asia and the Pacific, OFWs in Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and New Zealand will be prioritized.
For Europe and the Americas, to be prioritized are OFWs from Canada, Cyprus, Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States of America.
Qualified to apply are documented OFWs, who possess a valid passport and appropriate visa or permit to stay and work in the receiving country; and whose contract of employment has been processed by the POEA or the Polo.
Also included in the program are undocumented OFWs, or those who are not registered with the POEA or whose contracts were not processed by POEA or the Polo, but have undertaken actions to regularize their contracts or status; or who are not registered with the POEA or whose contracts were not processed by POEA or the Polo, but are active Owwa members at the time of availment.
The balik-manggagawa are those unable to return to their host country in view of the host country's lockdown due to Covid-19.
Also entitled to the cash assistance are OFWs who have been displaced due to the receiving country’s imposition of lockdown or community quarantine or having been infected by the disease.
"They (OFWs) must be still at overseas jobsites, or in the Philippines as balik-manggagawa, or already repatriated to the Philippines," said Bello.
To apply for the cash assistance program, Bello said on-site OFWs must visit the Polo in their host country, while repatriated OFWS and balik-manggagawa must apply in the nearest Owwa regional welfare offices. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)