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By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN)– AID grant worth Php1 billion.
More assistance is coming for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.
All over the world where OFWs lost their jobs, they became unemployed because of the pandemic that started in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019.
Tens of thousands of the Filipino migrant workers were then forced to come where many are struggling and striving to put food on the table for their families.
Not to mention bills to pay, house rents for many, clothes, health needs, among others.
Not to mention education of their children, or dependents — tuition fees, book allowance, etc. One good thing, their college students do not need a uniform as the government is now adapting online education, or distance learning.
Still, getting a college education entail such expenses; say laptops, tablets, smartphones, internet connectivity which online education requires — whether you are poor or moneyed (no problem there).
Quite fortunately the government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has an educational package for dependents of OFWs who are college level, or enrolling for college.
This is where the Php1 billion DOLE aid grant comes in.
In fact, DOLE headed by Secretary Silvestre Hello III said today, September 30, the DOLE is ready through its regional offices to implement the educational assistance, which is worth Php30,000 for every dependent of OFWs.
But first, it seems there is a screening for OFWs to see if one meets the criteria to be able to qualify for the aid grant. For one, they have to have been affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for them to beneficiary of the assistance dubbed “Tabang OFW.”
Bello called on OFWs whose children or dependents are college students to avail themselves of the aid program. He said the DOLE and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are jointly implementing the Php1 billion assistance for tertiary education.
In a statement issued by the department, it said the DOLE regional offices (ROs) has been tasked to perform the processing and evaluation of applications falling under the program and make sure of its problem- free implementation. It includes the release of the Php30,000 one-time cash grants to qualified beneficiaries.
OFWs must better hurry because the aid grant does not wait for everyone.
“The cash assistance is on a first-come, first-serve basis, that is why we advise OFWs to apply at our regional offices this early. They will facilitate the preparation of payment, including the release of the financial benefit to the grantees,” Bello emphasized.
Covered by the aid grant are school costs, namely, textbooks or learning materials, a academic and extra-curricular activities, and stipends including board and lodging, clothing, transportation, health or medical needs, and school supplies.
Here’s what OFWs should know, from DOLE, about the aid program for college education:
“Tabang OFW provides grant-in-aid to currently enrolled children of OFWs affected by Covid-19 who must meet the admission and retention requirements of government and private colleges and universities.
“Also, the qualified grantees must have not been expelled from school, are not recipients of any scholarship grant from any government agency, and are certified by DOLE as a dependent of an OFW who has been repatriated, or displaced due to the Covid-19 pandemic, or had died from Covid-19.
“The recipients must be financially dependent on the OFWs of their college education to qualify for the program, according to the joint memorandum circular signed by Bello and CHEd chair Prospero de Vera III last week.
“Under the circular, DOLE will identify OFWs who have at least a dependent or is intending to enroll in a public or private higher education institution in the academic year 2020-2021.
“The repatriated or displaced OFW shall elect one of his or her dependent who shall be included in the program. In the case of deceased OFW, the legal surviving spouse, parent, or next of kin shall elect the dependent.
“The fund for the program will be transferred to DOLE by CHEd’s United Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education.” (✓)