Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is waiting for the decision of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on its request for an additional PHP2.5 billion to finance its cash assistance program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. 

“There is no action yet from the DBM on our request for additional funds for the DOLE-AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) program but we are confident President (Rodrigo) Duterte will allow the request to help our OFWs,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday.

The program is a one-time emergency cash aid of USD200 or PHP10,000 to help the OFWs.

Bello said they asked for additional funding to be able to accommodate the increasing number of on-site and repatriated OFWs who are requesting assistance.

With additional funding, he said, AKAP would be able to extend emergency assistance to nearly half a million OFWs.

The DOLE-AKAP report showed that as of July 9, it has received a total of 563,497 applications from both land- and sea-based workers who are either still in their host countries or have returned to the Philippines.

Of the number, 232,427 applications have been approved and some PHP2.02 billion has been disbursed to 194,187 beneficiaries.

The DOLE was already given PHP2.5 billion in two tranches to enable it to assist 250,000 target beneficiaries.

The program was funded under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. (PNA)