The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) would roll out group livelihood loans for overseas Filipino workers displaced by the COVID-19 crisis, OWAA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said Tuesday.
“Three weeks ago nag-approve ang OWWA board chaired by Secretary [Silvestre] Bello III ng group livelihood. It’s a 500-M facility, it’s a [loan] grant P150,000 to P1 million ang maiga-grant natin,” Cacdac said in a Senate hearing led by the committee on labor.
“It’s a group livelihood program. We’re set to roll this out in September,” he added.
According to the OWWA Board, the group livelihood loans would be a great help for the OFWs.
“Batay sa karanasan, may malaki ang tyansa ng tagumpay kung grupo kaya ang pagapasyahan ng OWWA board ay i-encourage ang group livelihood program lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya, baka mas matibay ang negosyo kung grupo po sila,” Cacdac said.
(Based on experience, there is a good chance of success as a group, so the OWWA board decided to encourage the group livelihood program, especially during the pandemic, maybe the business will be stronger if they are a group.)
OWWA OFW assistance
The OWWA chief, however, did not discuss the application requirements and process for the group livelihood assistance yet.
The agency had assisted and returned around 165,000 OFWs to their home provinces since May 15, Cacdac said. Of that number, about 50 to 60 percent applied for the P10,000 cash aid from the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.
Meanwhile, the Senate committee on labor chairperson Joel Villanueva said that only 162,266 out of the target 250,000 AKAP beneficiaries received the assistance, so far.
Cacdac added there is P1 billion worth of funds allocated for AKAP from a supplemental budget received by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The Bayanihan 2 also allocates P2 billion for the program.
“Malaki ho ang pag-asa natin na mahahagip natin ang balanse, ‘yung kailangan pa tulungan dito sa DOLE-AKAP,” he said.
(We have high hopes that we can hit the balance, the ones who still need help here at DOLE-AKAP.)
Villanueva said the COVID-19 pandemic displaced 394,044 OFWs according to DOLE’s data as of August 19.