Twenty thousand Filipinos who are in “no work no pay” labor situation will benefit
Twenty Thousand Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) currently on a no work no pay labor situation will receive a US 200 or KD 61.500 from the Department of Labor and Employment’s “Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong” (AKAP- Reach Out to Help), financial aid launched by the Philippine Department of Labor And Employment (DOLE) with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
The program initially launched mid-April introduced a website where OFWs who suffered job loss, termination or other effects of the pandemic Corona Virus can apply on line for financial assistance. Ten thousand in numbers were initially allowed to apply after evaluation of applications have been made by officers in POLO Kuwait. Philippine Secretary of Labor Silvestre Bello III later announced that additional funds have been approving by the government thus online application was reopened.
Currently there are more than twenty thousand applications and only those who will qualify will receive the financial aid. In a brief interview with Assistant Labor Attaché Cathy Duladul said that the program will somehow help OFWs to purchase basic necessities and spend for some financial obligations they may have. “We are fully aware this amount is not enough to settle whatever they may need to but assists them during this difficult times” stated Duladul.
Prior to the twenty days on twenty two hours curfew, POLO has initially distributed the AKAP financial aid to some Filipinos and in previous two days distribution has already begun. Qualified beneficiaries have been called via phones to come to the POLO OWWA offices in Sadiq area to receive the amount.
Duladul also stated that OFWs residing in locked down areas such as Hawally, Mahboula, Farwaniya and Kheitan will also receive the aid through some staffs who actually reside in same areas and that arrangements are being made to ensure that the financial aid reach the beneficiaries. OFWs are request to wait for further announcements as to where the DOLE AKAP assistance can be claimed in their areas.
When asked as to how many OFWs are in current no work and no pay situation. Duladul said that with the 250,000 population of Filipinos in Kuwait, 70% are household helpers and 30% are expected to be in such situation. An OFW told The Times that seven of them work in a local coffee shop and owner decided to close down the place and were told to find other jobs instead.
“It has been two months since I didn’t have salary and kept looking for job but the times just do not permit that includes no transportation to go to places for interview, curfew, lockdown areas and more aggravate not only my financial difficulties but the mental tortures as to how I am going to survive.
I would have wanted to go home but I do not even have enough to pay for an airline ticket” lamented the OFW. Another OFW who worked for a fitness center in Salmiya complained that her company literally deserted them. “We called then repeatedly from the owner to the representative but none of them would answer phones and some have closed phones. I am terrified as to what will happen to me and my visa expires in July” stated the fitness trainer.
The effect of the NCOV 19 has hurled many OFWs to desperation as some took their own lives. At present uncertainty haunts OFWs and dark clouds seem to cover their future. They can but urge the Philippine government to support them during these difficult times and thank them for the assistance they have extended via food relief from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) distributed to 30,000 OFWs prior to full curfew and the current distribution of DOLE AKAP Financial aid to OFWs.
– Ricky Laxa