OWWA halts aid to returning OFWs



Starting next month, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will stop providing free accommodation and transportation assistance to Returning Overseas (OFW) Filipino workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, in a notice dated May 24, 2022, said certain exemptions will be granted to OFWs who have qualified under certain circumstances as defined by the agency.

Exempt from the directive are OFWs in distress who are certified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) or assessed by OWWA airport officers and those returning by government-initiated mass repatriation flights or OFWs provided by POLOs via commercial flights.

The OWWA will also provide free accommodation for partially or unvaccinated OFWs who must undergo mandatory quarantine at the facilities but must pay for transportation back to their home province.

Cacdac said the decision was taken following the implementation of Alert Level 1 in most parts of the country, which allowed businesses and public transport to operate at full capacity.

“Therefore, transportation and accommodation assistance for Filipino workers returning overseas will be suspended effective June 1, 2022,” he said.

Prior to the notice, the OWWA spent on hotel accommodations and food assistance for returning OFWs until they completed the quarantine period and rules imposed by the Inter Task Force. -agencies for the management of emerging infectious diseases.

After the quarantine period, OFWs were also provided with free transportation, by land or air, to their home province.

At the height of the pandemic last year, there were between 10,000 and 12,000 OFWs quarantined in 140 hotel establishments in Metro Manila at any given time.

For hotel accommodation alone, the OWWA spends 3,000 pesos per person for five-star hotels and less for other accommodation, an estimated expenditure of 30 million pesos per day.

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