50,000 overseas Filipinos repatriated from UAE - GulfToday

50,000 overseas Filipinos repatriated from UAE


Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter


The Duterte Administration continually repatriates Filipinos from around the world in connection with the 11-month old Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic, contrary to rumours. From Dubai and the Northern Emirates, a total of 50,000 including their dependents have gone home.


Of the 50,000, 2,600 have availed of the repatriation programme covering free airline tickets courtesy of the Department of  Foreign Affairs (Manila)-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.


Of the 50,000, a total of 926 had received their one-time $200 (Php10,000/Dhs730) financial assistance from the AKAP (Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong-Reaching Out) Programme of the Department of Labour and Employment (Manila).


Of the 2,600 which include the 143 repatriated on Oct. 31 via Manila’s flag carrier, Philippine Air Lines, DFA-OUMWA had so far shelled out Php68 million (Dhs5.2 million) based on ticket prices ranging from Dhs1,600 to Dhs2,500, since the repatriation of the terminated, monetary-impacted, and visit visa holders (left on their own) began last June.


These figures were released on Monday afternoon from the media briefing requested for by members of the Philippine Press from Consul General of Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes, since the last in-person press conference in February this year.


Present at the media briefing were Deputy Consul General Renato Duenas Jr., Labour Attache Felicitas Bay and newly-deployed Welfare Officer Melvin Caseda.


On the sidelines, Gulf Today presented a case of a Filipina who had not renewed her work contract as a result of the pandemic. The Filipina was only paid by her employer a portion of her eight-year gratuity and her basic salary with the promise that she would be receiving the remaining balance of the gratuity in trickles. The employer reasoned out financial difficulties.


Cortes agreed that Filipinos who decide to go home at these times must coordinate with their company’s Human Resources (HR) people: “Yes. They must coordinate with their HR because this is an agreement between them. So they need to make appropriate arrangements and agreements with them.”


Bay was asked about updates on the AKAP financial assistance. She disclosed that DoLE-Manila had allocated 22,000 slots for Dubai and the Northern Emirates Filipinos. Philippine-based media and Gulf Today had previously reported that the Duterte- approved AKAP budget of Php5 billion (Dhs379,433,388) is not only meant for COVID-19 impacted overseas Filipinos but for their counterparts in the Philippines as well.


Moreover, aside from Filipinos in the UAE, the “AKAP for OFWs” also covers those from 38 other countries in the Middle East and North Africa like Saudi Arabia and Libya, Asia and the Pacific like Malaysia and Australia, and Europe and the Americas like Greece and the US.


According to Bay, as of Nov. 1 (Sunday), the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai (POLO-Dubai) had remitted a total of Dhs15,786,250 (Php208,120,186.91) for 21,625 approved applicants who had fully complied with all the requirements including submission of documents of job loss, termination or having been on the no work-no pay scheme.


On the 926 AKAP applicants-recipients back in the Philippines, Bay told this reporter: “They applied for the DoLE’s one-time cash assistance programme at the POLO-Dubai online application and had been qualified/approved. We traced their whereabouts and found they are already back in the Philippines. We remitted their respective cash assistance through a foreign exchange centre in Dubai. They received the money in Philippine pesos (Php10,000 each).”


Under the COVID-19 Programme of the DOLE-attached agency, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), all legitimate or documented Filipinos, whether or not they have actively been paying their bi-annual OWWA membership fees of $25 (Dhs95), are entitled to all COVID-19-related tests and hotel quarantine plus domestic land/sea/air transportation expenditure.


“They must show proof that they were employed. Their dependents have the same benefits provided these dependents are with the documented overseas Filipino worker (OFW) when they go home,” said Caseda, adding that having been financially distressed, returning OFWs could avail from the OWWA regional offices covering their respective hometowns or home provinces reintegration packages.



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