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AKAP funds used up; P2B more set

THE labor department has almost used up P3.5 billion in funds intended to assist overseas Filipino workers who have been permanently or temporarily displaced from work due to COVID-19.

And the agency is set to disburse another P2 billion in AKAP funds provided under the Bayanihan 2 law, this time, in a more expeditious manner, the labor department said on Sunday.

Starting November 30, OFWs who will be repatriated to the Philippines may file their AKAP application prior to their arrival in the country, and receive their benefits within 3-5 days upon submission of complete documents.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the streamlining of the process followed the directive of the President to enable more OFWs to benefit from the one-time cash assistance.

In the new system, all new applications for AKAP will be accepted through the website oasis.owwa.gov.ph for displaced OFWs who are scheduled for repatriation. This will allow the offices of the (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) to process and evaluate the applications in advance.

This will shorten the waiting period of OFW applicants as they are now allowed to apply while still onsite and receive the financial assistance once they come back home to the Philippines,” Bello said.

For stranded Balik-Manggagawa and seafarers whose deployment were suspended due to COVID-19 as well as those who have been and will be repatriated before 30 November 2020, applications must still be filed through dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph. On the other hand, displaced OFWs who will remain onsite may file their application through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office covering their workplace.

Since the implementation of AKAP last April, the DOLE, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), DOLE Regional Offices, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), has already approved a total of 389,996 applications from OFWs.

As of November 28, DOLE had disbursed P3.45 billion benefitting 338,900 distressed OFWs. The AKAP program already received 683,369 applications for assistance.

With the fresh P2 billion fund under Bayanihan 2, an additional 200,000 OFWs will be provided the P10,000 cash aid.