OWWA cash aid to OFWs affected by travel ban reached P81M

PASAY CITY - As of morning of February 20, 2020, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already dispensed P81,060,000.00 to 8,106 OFWs who were affected by the temporary travel ban to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan due to the spread of corona virus 2019 or COVID-19 outbreak.

The P10,000 cash assistance, drawn from the OWWA Trust Fund of member-OFWs, was given to each stranded OWWA member-OFW. Per instruction of the Department of Labor and Employment to OWWA through a memorandum dated February 3, 2020, the cash assistance was distributed through OWWA regional welfare offices. Said assistance aims to “help stranded OFWs ease their burden and assist them back to their places of origin” during the travel ban.

The distribution of cash assistance commenced on February 3 for China, Hong Kong and Macau-bound OFWs; and, February 13 for OFWs going to Taiwan.

However, the travel ban to Taiwan has been lifted on February 15. Yesterday, February 19, OFWs bound for Hong Kong and Macau were given the go-signal to fly to the said countries. At the moment, the OFWs heading to China are hopeful for the ban to end soon.

With this development, the OWWA management instructed its regional offices to cease processing of application for cash assistance of Hong Kong- and Macau-bound OFWs beginning February 20.

Distribution of cash, transport assistance

Of the 17 OWWA regional offices, OWWA-National Capital Region expended the largest amount with P36.87M given to 3,687 OFWs. This was followed by OWWA-Region 1 (P7.16M for 716 OFWs), Region 6 (P6.82M given to 682 OFWs), Region 3 (P6.67M for 667 OFWs), Region 2 (P4.74M for 474 OFWs), CAR (P3.74M for 374 OFWs), Region 4A-A (P3.71M for 371 OFWs), Region 7 (P3.04M for 304 OFWs), Region XI (P2.55M for 255 OFWs), Region 5 (P1.27M for 127 OFWs), Region 12 (P1.11M for 111 OFWs), Region 10 (P1.05M for 105 OFWs), Region 8 (P760K for 76 OFWs), CARAGA (P650K for 65 OFWs), Region 4B (P440K for 44 OFWs), and Region 9 (P430K for 43 OFWs). OWWA-ARMM has the least number of claimants, releasing P50,000 to five OFWs.

Aside from cash, OWWA regional offices provided transportation assistance. OWWA-NCR, the transit point of OFWs coming from other regions, disbursed transport aid to 79 stranded OFWs from February 7 to February 19, amounting to P67,500.00.

OWWA NCR’s distribution of cash assistance were held in three venues -- OWWA Multi-purpose Hall Mall of Asia, and Philippine Trade Training Center, to accommodate the influx of OFW-claimants.