The Philippine Consulate in Al Ghusais, Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Filipinos who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are planning of going back home may receive an automatic one-time cash assistance of Dh730 (10,000 Philippine pesos) upon arrival at the Manila airport, the minister of the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) has announced.

“DOLE is planning to release the cash aid to repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as soon as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),” said DOLE minister Silvestre Bello III during a virtual forum in Manila on Wednesday. Currently, displaced Filipinos have to apply for assistance through DOLE’s AKAP (Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong) financial assistance programme.

Silvestre Bello III

But Bello said: “Why do we need to wait for them to apply for AKAP programme? If they were repatriated, it means they were displaced due to COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the reason why they were sent back home. So, we are thinking once they arrive at the airport, we will give them the cash assistance given to them by President Rodrigo Duterte.”

“This will ease the burden of the OFWs displaced by the pandemic. We know them as OFWs. We know they were displaced because of COVID-19 and therefore they deserve the financial assistance,” he added.

Filipino beneficiaries in Dubai

Felicitas Bay

The Philippine Labour Office in Dubai (POLO-Dubai) has disbursed a total of Dh15,786,250 as cash aid to 21,625 Filipinos in Dubai and Northern Emirates whose jobs were affected by COVID-19. Philippine Labour Attaché Felicitas Bay previously told Gulf News around 98,000 Filipinos in Dubai have applied for the cash aid since April 10. Her office is still evaluating some of the applications but the Philippine government has allotted a budget for only 22,000 recipients, she added.

Bello, meanwhile, noted DOLE has already disbursed 3.5 billion pesos (Dh260 million) worth of cash assistance to almost 350,000 beneficiaries, including OFWs and those working locally.