2 October 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Washington DC (POLO-WDC) distributed $200 financial assistance to each of the 2,225 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United States and the Caribbean Islands whose applications were approved under the DOLE AKAP program. 

POLO-WDC has been at the forefront of the Philippine Government’s efforts to provide financial assistance to OFWs in the United States and the Caribbean Islands whose employment and livelihood have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns forced the closure of many non-essential businesses, such as those in the tourism and hospitality industries, where many of our Filipino migrant workers are working in the Caribbean and parts of the United States.  The Philippine Department of Labor and Deployment (DOLE) estimates more than one million OFWs from around the world may eventually find themselves jobless or economically displaced as an inevitable consequence of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

POLO-WDC acknowledged, however, that the wide coverage of its jurisdiction, travel restrictions, and bank limitations/policies on wire transfers delayed the remittance and disbursement of the funds. 

“We have received several complaints about the delays in the release of the funds and we are grateful for the comments and suggestions that were sent our way. Rest assured, we shall continue to implement the program, taking note of all our accounting and auditing procedures as well as the host countries’”, said Labor Attaché Angela Trinidad.

Inspired by the Filipino tradition of “bayanihan,” POLO-WDC turned to the Philippine Honorary Consuls and Filipino community Leaders in the Caribbean Islands in order to facilitate the distribution of the financial assistance packages to the beneficiaries in compliance with the social distancing rules in their respective host countries. 

“From the latter part of May to the latter part of June, POLO-WDC has explored all cost-effective means possible to fast track the distribution of funds to our workers.  By the first week of June, POLO-WDC was already prohibited from performing bank transfers compelling it to seek authority from our Manila office to distribute funds through our Filipino community and association leaders,” Labor Attaché Trinidad explained.For their unconditional and efficient assistance in distributing the funds, Labor Attaché Trinidad has recognized and expressed appreciation to Honorary Consuls Glicerio “Eli” DM Arago of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Eric Whipps of Palau, and Filipino community leaders Narita Longno (Bermuda), Florenda Russel-Smith and  Jennifer Panganiban (British Virgin Islands), Arturo Ursua (Cayman), Florita Viterbo and Chris Burgos (Bahamas), Alan Tulalian (Trinidad and Tobago), Alfonso Palatino (Turks and Caicos Islands) and Laarni Raebel (Jamaica).