Dubai: All Filipinos availing the UAE’s amnesty programme who intend to return to the Philippines will receive $100 (Dh367) cash assistance from the Philippine government to help ease their transition.
Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes announced on Monday that the Philippine government will release the funds to returning Filipino nationals, except minors. Those choosing to stay in the UAE are not eligible.
“The welfare assistance is a humble amount that the Philippine government had allocated to our returning nationals who have availed of the amnesty programme. We hope that this could provide some sort of a buffer to put a smile on their faces as they return home and be reunited with their families and start a new life in the Philippines,” Cortes said.
The $100 welfare assistance comes from the Assistance-To-Nationals (ATN) Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) totalling one billion pesos (Dh68.8 million) for 2018. It is funded using taxpayers’ money.
This cash assistance is in addition to the 20,000-peso (Dh1,500) livelihood assistance that will be given to eligible Filipinos from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) intended to provide immediate relief to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The livelihood assistance includes cash assistance, entrepreneurship development training, and other assistance such as market linkages and job referrals.
The first mass repatriation of Filipino amnesty-seekers is scheduled on August 15. Cortes said Deputy Consul-General Renato Duenas Jr will accompany the 98 Filipinos, including six minors, scheduled on that flight. They have been advised to come to Dubai International Airport as early as 1pm to receive the cash assistance from consulate officials.
High-ranking DFA officials will be at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to welcome the returning nationals on Thursday.
Aside from the cash assistance, the Philippine government is also paying for all the exit fees of Filipinos who intend to come home, including their one-way air tickets to Manila and their connecting flights to their provinces.
As of August 9, as many as 277 Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have been issued exit permits. The Philippine consulate has so far released more than Dh630,000 to shoulder expenses related to their exit fees and tickets.
In Al Ain, one Filipino has been issued an exit permit according to Rowena Daquipil, charge d’affaires at the Philippine Embassy.
“Majority of the Filipino amnesty seekers here in the capital want to stay [after rectifying their status]. This is the trend in Abu Dhabi,” Daquipil told Gulf News.
The second batch of amnesty seekers from Dubai and the Northern Emirates will be repatriated on August 25 while the third batch is on September 2 or 3. The consulate is trying to send home up to 100 amnesty seekers per batch.
Cortes said majority of the amnesty seekers were holders of investor’s visa whose businesses went bust while others were laid off or lost employment when their companies closed down. Household service workers accounted for 25 per cent of all the repatriates.
Cortes advised amnesty seekers who plan to return to the UAE after being repatriated to go through proper overseas employment channels to be documented.
Q: Who can avail of the $100 welfare assistance and where can they get it?
A: All Filipino amnesty seekers, except minors, who intend to go home for good are entitled to the welfare assistance. Those who have been assisted by the Philippine consulate for mass repatriations will be given the cash assistance at the airport. Individuals who availed of their air tickets and did not seek help from the consulate may come to the Amnesty Section at the consulate before their departure to receive the cash assistance.
Q: What documents are required to avail this?
A: Exit permit and identification papers.
Q: Who can avail of the additional 20,000-peso livelihood assistance?
A: Based on the guidelines, amnesty-seekers who are Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) members, active or non-active, who were displaced by conflict or war, victims of illegal or human trafficking or other distressful situations, distressed wards, and workers whose companies went bust due to economic conditions such as what recently happened in Saudi Arabia may avail of the programme.
Q: What are the requirements for the livelihood assistance?
A: Applicants need to visit the labour offices in the Philippine missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and get a referral letter from the welfare officers before flying home. Welfare officers will evaluate the applicant and issue the referral to the OWWA regional office. OWWA will evaluate if the amnesty-seeker qualifies as eligible beneficiary of the programme.