130,000 more OFWs displaced by pandemicto receive AKAP financial aid–DOLE chief

Some 130,000 more additional overseas Filipino workers (OFW) affected by the pandemic will soon get their much-awaited financial assistance from the government, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a news conference on Thursday, Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was able to secure additional funding for their Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Program (AKAP).

AKAP is a one-time P10,000 cash aid extended by DOLE through its regional offices, Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to pandemic-affected-OFWs.

“President [Ferdinand] Bongbong [Marcos Jr.] heard the complaints on the pending claims for AKAP. This affected 130,000 OFWs and their families,” Laguesma said.

With the release of the fresh funding for AKAP from DBM, Laguesma said they started the distribution of the said cash aid to qualified beneficiaries last Thursday.

Labor Undersecretary Benjo M. Benavidez clarified they are no longer entertaining new AKAP applicants.

He said the additional funding would only be spend among those who have already listed for the program before, but were not able to get the financial aid due to budgetary constraints.

“Their applications were already approved. There was just not enough funding for it,” Benavidez said.

Last February, OWWA reported that AKAP funds have already been exhausted.

OWWA said it distributed P5.49 billion worth of AKAP aid to 540,000 OFWs as of December 2021.

With Malou Talosig-Bartolome