Over 600K OFWs displaced by pandemic seeking help — DOLE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — The Department of Labor and Employment said over 600,000 overseas Filipino workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are requesting assistance from the government.

In a statement on Sunday, DOLE said data from Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) showed there were 604,403 seeking assistance as of August 15.

It added that close to 272,000 requests have been approved.

The department provides a one-time cash assistance program under the Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program where recipients receive $200, or ₱10,000.

In the statement, DOLE said they received a total funding of ₱2.5 billion to provide assistance for 250,000 OFWs.

"The budget is almost fully depleted with the disbursement of ₱2.436 billion to 237,778 OFW beneficiaries as of Saturday," the statement said.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of an additional ₱5-billion fund to cover the evacuation and aid packages for OFWs affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said a hefty chunk of the fresh funds will be released to the OWWA, which handles the evacuation efforts for OFWs affected by the global lockdowns.