MANILA – Some 7,500 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have already been assisted by the government under the OFW Return Program, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) reported on Wednesday.
“So far we have 7,500 OFWs who were provided transportation (land, sea and air) in the first two days and we are hoping that the number will increase. We are on Day 3, it’s a seven day period given to us by President Rodrigo Duterte. We are looking forward for more buses and sea transport,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a phone interview in a Laging Handa briefing.
Over the weekend, the President gave the DOLE and other agencies a week to send home some 24,000 OFWs who were stuck in quarantine facilities.
“We were given a seven-day period by the President. That (period) ends on Sunday,” the OWWA chief added.
Some of the OFWs have been in the country for at least a month and under quarantine for the mandatory period of 14 days. They were displaced due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cacdac reported that the OWWA Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Livelihood Program has a budget of PHP700 million.
“We have around PHP700 million allocation for the reintegration program, “Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” and approximately 50,000 (for the) first round of beneficiaries. We just have to be mindful of the number of applicant-beneficiary…and then we can further tap into the fund just to provide reintegration packages for the returning OFWs,” he said.
He added that they will start accepting applications for the livelihood program next week.
“Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III directed us to use our reintegration livelihood fund the Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program. Starting next week, we will start receiving applications from returning OFWs in their home local government units,” Cacdac said.
The livelihood support/assistance package aims to provide immediate relief to returning distressed/displaced member-OFWs amounting to a maximum of PHP20,000 as a start-up or additional capital for the livelihood project. (PNA)