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House allocates P820 million under Bayanihan 2 for ATN Fund

The House of Representatives has allocated P820 million under the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill or Bayanihan 2 to augment the government’s dwindling Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Fund and boost its efforts to assist and repatriate distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano cited that under Bayanihan 2, the House infused additional amount to the ATN Fund after  officials of the DFA relayed to the House Committee on Public Accounts that the DFA needs funding to plane back home more than 100,000 stranded OFWs and that the ATN Fund is dwindling.

The P820-million funding allocation under Bayanihan 2 will be used for “repatriation-related expenses, shipment of remains and cremation of OFWs who passed away due to COVID-19, medical assistance of OFWs, and other assistance that may be provided for OFWs who are affected by the pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Based on the report submitted by the DFA to the House on Aug.14, the available ATN Fund amounted to around P118 million.

In the same report, the DFA apprised the House that the repatriation of 134,178 OFWs has been facilitated. Of the number, 52,206 OFWs were sea-based while 81,972 were land-based.

“We commend the DFA for heeding the call of the House of Representatives when we asked them to step up the repatriation of our overseas Filipino workers. After the July 14 hearing in the Congress, we witnessed how they doubled their effort to successfully bring home around 134,178 OFWs as of today,” Cayetano, a former DFA Secretary, said.

“With the additional funds, we hope to bring home more of our kababayans by September and December. Ibinabalik natin kung ano ‘yung nawala para mas marami pang kababayan natin ang matulungan ng DFA (We are giving them almost the same amount they have already utilized so the DFA can help more Filipinos),” he added.

Citing the DFA, he said another 90,969 OFWs are expected to arrive by September and another 100,000 by December.

Cayetano noted that the DFA had tapped the ATN Fund  to charter 40 flights starting February to repatriate more than 10,000 distressed OFWs, most of whom have no financial means to pay for their airfare.

He said the fund was also used to assist more than 123,000 OFWs who could not be accommodated in the DFA-chartered flights due to limitations in seating capacity or physical distancing requirements.

The DFA also uses the ATN Fund to maintain shelters which temporarily house wards who await their repatriation, immigration penalties, and other related costs for exit visas of distressed OFWs.

The fund is also tapped to provide outreach services such as the “Embassy on Wheels,” welfare assistance, medical assistance, and medical repatriation to distressed OFWs. 


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/16/house-allocates-p820-million-under-bayanihan-2-for-atn-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=house-allocates-p820-million-under-bayanihan-2-for-atn-fund)

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