GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already assisted over 37,000 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from parts of Region 12 (Soccsksargen) who were affected by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Marilou Sumalinog, OWWA-Region 12 director, said on Thursday these were workers who returned home since May last year after completing their employment contracts and those retrenched and displaced due to the crisis.
She said the agency mainly assisted the concerned workers during their quarantine in Metro Manila and facilitated their return to the region.
OWWA and other national government agencies had arranged a number of sweeper flights to accommodate OFWs who were stranded due to the travel restrictions and lockdowns following the onset of the pandemic in March last year.
Sumalinog said they fetched the affected OFWs, which so far reached a total of 37,419, from various seaports and airports in Mindanao, specifically in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Cotabato.
Aside from travel facilitation, she said they released financial assistance to qualified returning overseas workers under the Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Assistance Program or DOLE-AKAP.
The beneficiaries, which comprised of land and sea-based OFWs whose employments were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, received one-time cash grants of PHP10,000 each.
“We’re continually assisting the affected OFWs through other programs,” Sumalinog told reporters.
These include the Tabang OFW program, which provides one-time cash assistance of PHP30,000 to college-level dependents of overseas workers who were displaced due to the pandemic.
Sumalinog said they have so far released a total of PHP89.2 million in financial assistance to 8,932 qualified OFWs.