Due to the temporary travel ban imposed by the Philippine government on certain countries including China, Hong Kong, Macau, and recently, Taiwan, many vacationing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were not able to return to work.
Because of this situation, the government had to step in to assist those affected by the temporary travel ban, which aims to control the spread of the virus from key locations identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Gov’t Extends Aid to More than 500 OFWs Affected by COVID-19 Travel Ban
In line with this, some 566 OFWs who are unable to return to their work abroad yet due to the temporary travel ban have received PHP10,000 cash assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), as shared in a report by the Philippine News Agency.
On Thursday (February 13), OWWA Ilocos regional office information officer Geraldine Lucero noted that the aid is an immediate response of the two national government agencies to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to ease the burden of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the imposed temporary travel bans due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in several countries.
Lucero explained: “The OFWs are from different parts of the (Ilocos) region. They are those supposedly returning to Hong Kong, Macao, and China, where there is an imposed travel ban in these countries.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed a temporary ban on travel to and from these countries due to Covid-19 starting Feb. 2. The government recently has also included Taiwan in its travel ban, the reason being, the One-China policy also applies to Taiwan.
Lucero said the stranded OFWs whose flights were scheduled from Feb. 2 to 16 were able to claim the cash assistance.
Meanwhile, those whose flights were scheduled from Feb. 17 onwards can already submit their profiles to OWWA’s satellite offices near them and they will be notified on when they will receive the cash aid.
However, Lucero did point out that the aid is for documented OFWs only, whether they are newly-hired or have been working overseas for a long time; active or inactive OWWA member. Unfortunately, those who are undocumented or are already residents of the said country where they work cannot avail of the said assistance.
Aside from the assistance, some of the stranded OFWs have also enrolled in short-term courses offered by OWWA, in cooperation with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Lucero added.
“We offer information technology training, among our other regular programs. The training is open to all OFWs with at least one OWWA membership payment and their dependents for free. After they finish a course, a TESDA certificate will be given to them,” she explained.
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Lucero shared that some of the stranded OFWs have already availed of the courses since the lifting of the temporary ban is still indefinite at the moment.
And finally, Lucero also noted that affected OFWs may also avail of the skills for employment scholarship, wherein a qualified OFW may receive up to PHP 14,500 for school tuition fees.