DUTERTE APPROVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR OFW ASSISTANCE
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has given his approval for the release of PhP 5 billion in funding for the cost of repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Philippine Government‘s Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that most of the funding will go to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which is responsible for the repatriation of OFWs.
During a Senate hearing last month, OWWA administrator Hans Cacdac said that OWWA would run out of money by next year if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put OFWs out of work.
OWWA is currently shouldering the cost of testing OFWs for COVID-19, as well as the cost of hotels while OFWs wait for the results of the tests.
OWWA also shoulders the costs of transportation to their homes after OFWs test negative for COVID-19.
DOLE has distributed PhP10,000 to eligible OFWs through the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program.
267,584 OFWs have received funds through the AKAP program, with more than P2 billion distributed.
DOLE has requested for P2.5 billion in additional funds for 597,469 OFWs who are on the waitlist.
Bello has instructed officials at the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) around the world to continue processing AKAP applications from OFWs.
WHO IS RODRIGO DUTERTE?
Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the 16th president of the Philippines.
Born on March 28, 1945, Duterte is the oldest person to become Philippine President when he did so at the age of 71.
Duterte is a lawyer, graduating from San Beda College of Law in 1972.
He worked as a lawyer for Davao City before serving as Vice-Mayor and Mayor.
Duterte served as mayor for Davao City for more than 22 years.
Duterte has been a vocal supporter of extrajudicial killings of criminals, and has been the focus of human rights groups who have documented over 1,400 deaths attributed to vigilantes in Davao between 1998 to 2016.
An investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman was not able to verify the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad, nor were they able to connect Duterte to any of the killings.
Duterte defeated Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay and Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the Presidential election in 2016.
His campaign platform was focused on eradicating crime in the Philippines, which saw over 7,000 dead by 2017.
International groups raised concerns about reports of extrajudicial killings, which Duterte had responded by threatening to withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations.
Since then, Duterte has pursued a different approach to traditional Philippine policy, and pivoting away from allies like the United States and fostering closer ties to China and Russia.
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