Dubai-based OFWs receive cash aid through Philippine overseas labor office

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DUBAI— Almost 8000 Filipino recipients in Dubai and the northern emirates have received the “DOLE-AKAP for OFWs” one-time cash assistance of US$200 (AED730) created by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for migrant workers who have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of June 06, the Philippine Overseas Labour Office-Dubai and Northern Emirates (POLO-DNE) have paid out a total of 7,814 from the 10,906 approved applications submitted, according to Labour Attaché Felicitas Bay.

POLO-DNE has received a total of 82,590 applications and out of which 28,361 have been evaluated, said Ms. Bay. 

Ms. Bay stressed that while POLO-Dubai continues to receive and process applications for the cash assistance, it has to follow a “first-come-first-served basis” as government budget allocated for her jurisdiction is good only for 17,000 Filipino migrant workers. 

“We always have to consider that everything depends on the [government’s] budget. We are hoping that more [beneficiaries] would be added but until such time that we would receive further instruction [from the head office], we only have an allocation for 17,000 beneficiaries at the moment,” she explained in a Facebook Live interview set up by some members of the Filipino community in the UAE.

The POLO-DNE chief further stressed that the overall budget for the DOLE-AKAP program is PHP2.5 billion (US$50 million) in total to aid about 250,000 land-based and sea-based Filipino migrant workers all over the world who have either partially or totally lost jobs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

“We should understand that the government is trying its best to help, that is why, from the PHP1.5 billion budget initially allocated, another PHP1 billion has been added. I really do not know if there will be another additional [budget] but we are really hoping that more would be added,” she said during the interview.

Asked why it takes a long time to process each application, Ms. Bay explained that the process of going through each application takes time as they have to make sure that every single applicant followed instructions and submitted all the necessary requirements. 

“We have assigned personnel especially for the DOLE-AKAP program, but validation is very difficult even though everything is online because sometimes we still have to call or email the employers if there is a need for some information to be verified or needs validation,” she said. 

The Labour Attache also pointed out that the validation process should be done meticulously as it involves a big sum of money, of which she is accountable for being the head of the office.

The DOLE-AKAP program was announced by Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III on March 25 but was temporarily suspended on May 11 “pending evaluation of applications received and subject to availability of funds”, and resumed only on May 24. -Henri Abenis-Macahilo/Dubai Bureau

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