LAOAG CITY --Thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families camped out in the Ilocos Norte capitol on Tuesday for the PHP1,500 to PHP3,000 calamity assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Geraldine Salazar, Labor Communication Officer of OWWA Region 1, said as early as 11 p.m. Monday, some claimants from Batac City have already camped out at the back of the provincial capitol to ensure they get on the first line during the processing and releasing of calamity fund.

Salazar said following a first come, first serve scheme, only 350 claimants were accommodated per day, the first batch of which came from hardest-hit areas of Batac, Currimao and Pagudpud.

As of this posting, only OFWs from the hardest-hit areas of Batac, Currimao will be accommodated from Sept. 25 to 28 and those from Pagudpud on Oct. 4-5.

“It’s a small amount but we are grateful for OWWA for this unexpected blessing,” said Sharon Aliga, a former OFW from Barangay Baay, Batac City on Wednesday.

On early Wednesday, Aliga and her friend Mae Joanne Camalig from Tabug village, Batac City went to the Capitol but failed to get a priority number out of the 350 slots that will be processed Wednesday. Aliga and Camalig are former factory workers in Taiwan.

Though she is not expecting to receive any calamity assistance from OWWA, she said she is happy to see her neighbor who was able to receive PHP3,000 on Tuesday.

“The amount went straight for the payment of their electric bills,” Camalig said.

Calamity assistance is part of the Welfare Assistance Program of OWWA.

It aims to help families with OFW members who were affected by the recent onslaught of Typhoon Ompong. The first batch of claimants will receive their assistance from Tuesday to Friday.

According to OWWA, cash grants of PHP3,000 were given to active OWWA members, while non-active members received PHP1,500.

Eligible claimants for calamity relief are OFWs themselves or their next of kin such as spouse or children of an unmarried OFW who is of legal age, guardian of an OFW’s minor child, parents of an unmarried OFW, and a sibling of an unmarried OFW.

A proof of relationship to OFW, photocopy of identification cards, and an authorization letter are required to claim the benefits.

Super Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut), which hit the province on Sept. 14-15, left more than PHP3 billion worth of damages in agriculture and infrastructure. (PNA)