About 95,702 overseas Filipino workers repatriated by the government due to the coronavirus pandemic have been transported back to their homes, the labor department reported on Monday.

The latest batch of 1,691 home-bound OFWs, all of whom tested negative for Covid 19, took their rides back to their respective provinces on Saturday based on data of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

In May, over 34,000 OFWs were sent home by the government to their respective regions, and more than 61,000 thereafter followed suit on an almost daily basis in the succeeding months.

Amid these surge of returning OFWs, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has assured that the government will exhaust all means to help OFWs regain jobs they lost abroad due to the pandemic.

A tracking system called OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS) has been developed by the labor department for its Command Center to facilitate orderly and smooth repatriation and assistance to returning OFWs and outbound OFWs.

Aside from transportation assistance, OWWA, in coordination with other government agencies, Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs), and licensed manning agencies (LMAs), provides food, hygiene kits, and accommodation to returning overseas Filipino workers.

Meanwhile, the number of OFWs affected by the pandemic seeking assistance further soared to 572,442.

Latest reports from DOLE’s overseas offices and OWWA also showed that 240,583 requests for assistance under the government’s AKAP program have been approved, with 203,585 OFWs already receiving the emergency aid.

AKAP is a one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for onsite or repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic. The labor department has so far disbursed P2.095 billion of the P2-billion program fund as of July 19.

END/Gerry Rubio, DOLE IPS