Gabriela-United Arab Emirates and OFWs in the UAE are glad that the DOLE has taken back its announcement suspending the acceptance of application for the USD 200 assistance that it has promised to OFWs.
The advisory’s release shows, once again, the government’s incompetence especially in handling OFWs’ interests. The widespread condemnation coming from OFWs forced them to retract the advisory and promise to continue accepting applications for the assistance.
The process of accepting application for the one-time cash assistance under the DOLE-AKAP program should continue, and should be genuine, and the cash assistance itself should be released as soon as possible. OFWs in the UAE are already running out of food and basic necessities and we need the assistance now.
Still, the P1.5 billion is insufficient to provide USD 200 financial assistance to help all OFWs. The DOLE’s claim that it will provide such assistance to 150,000 OFWs is wrong and misleading, as it also said that the P1.5 billion budget will cover the administrative costs for the program.
We also point out that there are 650,000 OFWs in the UAE alone, while there are 2 million OFWs in the Middle East. The P1.5 billion budget which the government brags about is grossly insufficient and will only result in the exclusion of many OFWs from the assistance program.
The financial assistance package should be increased to cover all OFWs affected by the pandemic. While we recognize the inclusion of OFWs who have been put under “no work, no pay” schemes, we are still calling for the inclusion of all distressed OFWs:
>> Those who have been laid off from work, whether staying in the host country or in the Philippines
>> Those who have been placed under “forced unpaid leave” arrangements.
>> Those whoses wages have been cut and are delayed.
>> Women migrants who are staying in shelters — in Bahay Kalinga, POLO shelters, and others.
>> Those who are in quarantine or self-isolation
>> Those who are supposed to return to work but are stranded in the Philippinse.
>> Those who are health workers, our frontliners
>> OFW health workers who are affected by the supension of overseas deployment of health workers
>> Household workers who have been dismissed or who ran away because of abuses by employers
We from Gabriela-UAE are calling on the DOLE to stop all posturings and whining. It should provide extensive, immediate and significant cash assistance to all OFWs. Everyday, this government is denying financial assistance to OFWs who are already starving or near-starving.
For decades, OFWs have been the ventilators of the Philippine economy. Now, it is OFWs and their families who are in ICU because of the economic effects of the pandemic. We OFWs and our families need government support. The government should extend every help that it can to our OFWs.
The government has always been very quick and strict when forcing OFWs to pay government-imposed fees. Now, however, that OFWs and our families are already hungry, the government seems nowhere to be found. Kapag bayarin, walang lusot ang OFW; ngayong kailangan nila ng tulong, ang gobyerno, puro palusot.###