Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
By EDD K. USMAN & DEEN MOHAMMAD
MANILA/RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (SDN) — Thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) stand to receive cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Beneficiaries are land-based and sea-based OFWs displaced by the nearly five-month 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) global pandemic.
The assistance is from the “Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong” (DOLE-AKAP) program which Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced in April. It has a budget of Php1.5 billion.
Each OFW whose application passed a validation process will receive US$200, or Php10,000, or its equivalent currency where the worker is based.
Bello emphasized that DOLE-AKAP’s funds cover administrative expenses of Central and Regional operations to be incurred in the program’s implementation. Source of the funds is from DOLE Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (DOLE-CAMP) worth Php1.5 billion.
In the KSA, there are over 800,000 OFWs, the biggest Filipino community in the Middle East Region, figures from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (DOLE-POLO) in Riyadh, the capital of KSA, showed.
In fact, according to Labor Attaché Nasser S. Mustafa, head of the DOLE-POLO in Riyadh, the capital of KSA, the distribution of the “one-time financial assistance” has already started.
He said POLO Riyadh received more than 20,000 applications for the DOLE-AKAP.
In an advisory Mustafa issued, he said “acceptance of online applications” for AKAP “shall be temporarily suspended effective 11 May 2020.”
He said applications “shall resume upon approval and release of the additional fund request of DOLE.” The labor attaché issued the advisory per DOLE instructions.
However, POLO Riyadh assured that applications it received on or before the cut-off date shall be acted upon on a first-come, first-served basis, or until all the applications have been acted upon.
Over in the DOLE Central Office in Manila, the labor department continues to accept applications for the AKAP assistance, People’s Television (PTV 4) reported on Friday (May 15).
Original target beneficiaries was 150,000 OFWs, but as of May 12 more than 400,000 applications were submitted to the DOLE.
SDN — Science & Digital News learned that the number of approved AKAP applications will depend on the funding DOLE will provide to each POLO station.
The department approved a total of 142,000 applications, with 100,000 OFWs already given the Php10,000 Covid-19 assistance.
Apparently because of the massive number of applications, the DOLE requested the Department of the Budget and Management (DBM) for Php2.5 billion additional funds, but only Php1 billion was granted.down measures in the Kingdom hit home hard on the Filipino community.
Mustafa said because of lockdown and curfew POLO Riyadh is delivering the AKAP aid on a door-to-door mode the same way it did with the food package assistance.
Mustafa is labor attaché for Riyadh and Central Region Office as well as the officer-in-charge for the POLO in Kuwait.
He previously served, among others, in Tripoli, Libya. (SDN)
All images credit to and thanks to POLO Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.