President Rodrigo Duterte has approved an additional P5 billion in funding for the repatriation and assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced on Sunday.

Bello said majority of the P5 billion would be forwarded to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which takes care of the repatriation of lockdown-affected OFWs.

Aside from assistance and repatriation, the OWWA is also responsible for shouldering food, hotel accomodations and Covid-19 testing of OFWs upon their arrival in the country.

Since May 15, nearly 130,000 OFWs have been repatriated. 

The Department of Labor and Employment has extended cash assistance worth P2.38 billion to more than 233,000 workers as of Aug. 8.

“I have directed our POLOs (Philippine Overseas Labor Offices) to accelerate the processing of the assistance so that a greater number of our OFWs will benefit soonest from the aid coming from our government,” Bello said in a statement.

As of Aug. 9, 9,754 Filipinos abroad have contracted Covid-19. John Ezekiel J. Hirro