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The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it will focus on providing livelihood programs to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in its post-coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) recovery plan.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the focus of the government is to help OFWs who are already in the country and those who were stranded because of the pandemic.

“Our immediate program is to provide a livelihood to them and we will focus on OFWs who are back in the country and those who were not able to leave,” he said.

OFW-beneficiaries have a choice to put up their own business or they can also plant crops.

“We will provide them livelihood projects. They can choose any business they can put up their own carinderia, sari-sari store, or to plant. We will give them livelihood assistance of PHP20,000. If they need a bigger amount, we can lend them money, interest-free,” he added.

Bello said they have funds allocated for the program.

“Our target are OFWs. We are already preparing and we have funds for that. I will not reveal the amount yet,” he added.

Earlier, the DOLE reported that they received some 400,000 applications from OFWs for its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program, a one-time cash assistance amounting to PHP10,000 (USD200).

Data from the agency showed as of May 12, a total 409,020 applicants were received by Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) abroad while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has processed applications in the country.

Of the number, 142,550 have been approved.

The government has allocated an initial PHP1.5 billion for the cash aid for OFWs affected by Covid-19.

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