MANILA, Philippines — The labor department will get P5 billion in additional funding for programs designed to help formal sector workers affected by the Luzon-wide lockdown.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the aid package for formal sector workers through Resolution No. 21 issued on Monday.
“The recommendations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the social amelioration program for the formal workers’ sector as presented are hereby approved,” Nograles, spokesman for IATF, said at a press briefing yesterday.
“For this purpose, the IATF supports the approval and immediate release of the requested budget by the Department of Labor and Employment amounting to P5 billion,” he added.
Nograles said the outlay would fund the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) adjustment measures program (CAMP) for affected overseas and local workers, Tulong Panghanapbuhay for Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) sanitation project and the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) sa OFWs program.
CAMP provides P5,000 each to workers whose company operations were affected by the lockdown.
TUPAD provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers while AKAP aims to provide relief to migrant workers.
Nograles said the cash assistance is different from the emergency subsidy program of the social welfare department, which seeks to help informal sector workers and low-income households.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the pandemic would received P10,000 in financial assistance from the government.
Bello said the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) could now start processing the assistance.
Repatriated OFWs increasing
The influx of returning OFWs continues as more countries imposed travel restriction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
OWWA chief Hans Cacdac said 600 OFWs affected by the lockdown in Kuwait arrived in two separate flights.
“The stranded OFWs will be accommodated and taken care of in a facility until they are able to return to their homes,” Cacdac said, noting that most of the returning workers are from the Visayas and Mindanao.
The OWWA has been providing food and accommodation to thousands of OFWs who have been displaced since the government and other countries imposed travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, 120 Filipino seafarers from Malaysia who were quarantined for more than two weeks in Basilan have been declared free from COVID.
They were intercepted last month while on their way to Zamboanga City and were brought to Sibakil Island for examination and quarantine.
The seafarers were issued medical clearance over the weekend by a team of doctors and nurses, among them personnel of the provincial health office, who stayed with them during the quarantine.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has identified at least two “quarantine ships” that will be used to shelter repatriated seafarers.
The PCG said the 2GO Group Inc. lent its M/V St. John Paul II and M/V St. Anthony de Padua, which will be converted into quarantine ships for at least 400 Filipino seafarers who are expected to arrive in the country this week.
The ships are docked at Pier 15 in Port Area, Manila and can accommodate up to 1,500 patients each. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Robertzon Ramirez, John Unson, Roel Pareño, Pia Lee-Brago
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