Dubai: Around 26,900 Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have received Dh730 each as COVID-19 assistance from the Philippine government. The total amount disbursed as of February 16 was around Dh19,637,000, according to figures from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office — Dubai (POLO-Dubai).
The breakdown of beneficiaries include 26,600 recipients of the one-time cash assistance programme sourced from the Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) for OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) of the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE); and 321 OWWA (Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration) members who were COVID-19 survivors.
According to POLO-Dubai, as of January 30 this year, a total of 99,869 applicants have asked for financial assistance. Some of them, however, have made double or triple applications. More than 48,000 cases have been reviewed and strict verification process is being conducted to avoid duplication of beneficiaries, POLO-Dubai noted.
What is AKAP and WAP
AKAP is a one-time financial assistance amounting to Dh730. This has been implemented since last year and given to kababayans (Filipino countrymen) whose employment or source of livelihood were affected by the pandemic. They may have been terminated, put under unpaid leave, or given reduced salary.
OWWA’s assistance for COVID-19 survivors, on the other hand, is under DOLE’s Workers Assistance Program (WAP). While AKAP is an emergency assistance programme extended to those displaced or affected by COVID-19, WAP is open only to members of OWWA, an attached agency of DOLE that collects Dh92 membership fee and whose mandate is to develop and implement welfare programmes and services for OFWs and their families. OWWA has also been providing food assistance to distressed OFWs, even before the pandemic.
To avail of AKAP, Philippine authorities required completely-filled online application, passport copy and proof of overseas employment or proof of loss of employment. To avail of WAP, OWWA asked for the medical record of the beneficiary to prove he/she has contracted coronavirus; as well as proof of OWWA membership.
First come, first served
Cash disbursement has been done on a “first come, first served basis and dependent on availability of funds,” according to POLO-Dubai.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III earlier said they expect to complete the implementation of the said programmes in June this year, before the expiration of Bayanihan 2 or Republic Act No. 11494, a law that was enacted in September last year to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines.
Bello added OWWA members who contracted COVID-19 can avail of Dh730 one-time financial assistance. Requirements include submission of passport copy; visa copy; medical report/certificate (stating patient is or has been COVID-19 positive) and proof of OWWA membership. These have to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a previous Gulf News report, the Philippine Consulate noted over 50,000 Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates have left the UAE since June 2020 for various reasons brought about by the pandemic. Of the total, the Philippine mission in Dubai has provided free tickets to around 3,500 distressed Filipinos.
The assistance was coursed through the PCG’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Section. At an average cost of Dh2,500 for a one-way ticket to the Philippines, the ATN has facilitated the release of around Dh8.75 million for 3,500 Filipinos brought home last year. The consulate noted some of the Filipinos may have already returned to their employment in the UAE.