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P18 billion spent on repatriation program for OFWs during pandemic –OWWA

The Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) on Saturday said it spent around P18 billion on the government's repatriation program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Siguro mga P18 billion na ang nagastos in all since 2020 at saka 2021," OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in an interview on Super Radyo DZBB.

The amount included food, hotel accommodations, and transportation expenses used for the repatriation of OFWs.

Cacdac said OWWA spends P30 million a day just to pay the hotels used as quarantine facilities.

During the latest budget hearing for DOLE-OWWA,  Cacdac explained that an "all-time high" P11.2 billion was allocated for emergency repatriation in 2022, and this may reach up to P14 billion if salaries of OFWs are included.

Before the pandemic, Cacdac said the OWWA was being allocated a P1 billion budget, which included the payment of salaries of OFWs.

Meanwhile, Cacdac said 540,000 displaced OFWs have already received around P5.4 billion from the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.

The distribution of financial aid for the AKAP program will resume in January due to backlogs with the gap between Bayanihan 1 and 2. — DVM, GMA News