CANDON CITY, Apr. 12 (PIA) - Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Ilocos Region who were assisted through the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) now stand at 14,097.
DOLE in the Ilocos Regional Director Evelyn Ramos said the amount of Php140,970,000.00 was already used up for the USD200 or Php10,000.00 one-time financial assistance for land-based and sea-based workers who were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
"The DOLE-Regional Office I and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have been working closely to facilitate the release of the cash aid to the beneficiaries," she said.
The OWWA evaluates all AKAP applications and submits those approved to the DOLE for the processing and release of assistance through partner remittance centers, the Regional Director added.
Among those who benefitted from the AKAP is Marjorie Liao, a 38-year-old resident of this city.
Marjorie was an OFW in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
He had a promising job as a junior sous chef at a hotel.
When national economies started reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel temporarily shut down its operations.
Marjorie, who was set to return to his work on March 14, 2020, was advised by his employer to extend his vacation.
He has not been able to leave the country again due to lockdowns.
"It is really saddening because we have families to support," Marjorie said.
The former OFW is married and has two children, who are seventh and third graders.
Then he learned about the AKAP.
"The Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of Candon assisted me in my online application for the financial assistance," he said.
After barely a month since he applied, Marjorie received the full amount of Php10,000.00, and used it to start a small food business.
His first venture was a "mamihan" stall, but he switched to food delivery service as it is more profitable during the present situation.
To meet their family's basic needs, Marjorie juggles the roles of a business owner, construction worker, farmer, haircutter and a home maker.
"I want to thank the DOLE, OWWA and PESO for the efficient services and assistance they provide to affected OFWs," he said.
To be eligible for the AKAP, OFWs must be: (1) Those who have experienced job displacement due to the receiving country's imposition of lockdown or community quarantine or having been infected by the disease; (2) Must be still at overseas job sites, or in the Philippines as balik-manggagawa, or already repatriated to the Philippines; and (3) Must not receive any financial support/assistance from the receiving countries/employers. (JCR/AMB/PIA Ilocos Sur with reports from DOLE)