President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 31 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to raise the scholarship fund for children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic to PHP3 billion.

This, after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III admitted that the current PHP1 billion education subsidy was “inadequate” to help all displaced OFWs’ children.

“Kung talagang tutulong lang naman tayo, todohin na natin (If we’re going to help, let’s go all out). If I will give you mga (about) PHP3 billion, would you think that it would make a difference in the number of students of OFWs now enrolled in schools?” Duterte asked Bello in his prerecorded meeting with Cabinet officials in Davao City on Monday night.

Bello, in response, said the PHP3 billion scholarship fund would be a “big help” to college-level children of displaced OFWs.

Duterte then asked Executive Secretary Salvador if it would be possible to release the amount needed for the education subsidy.

Medialdea said the executive department will discuss the matter with the Department of Budget and Management.

If more funds were needed, Duterte said he will find a way to look for sources of funding.

“Kung kulang (If it’s lacking), then we will increase the amount in time. Over time we will see how it develops. We have to get the results also,” he said.

He said he wanted to somehow ease the burden being carried by OFWs.

“I will try to go as far as PHP3 billion in the — in God willing another time so that we can make an impact on the — ‘yung hardships of the OFW,” he said.

Duterte also directed Bello to ensure that only students who had the drive to finish their studies would avail of the education subsidy.

“Only those that are studying na may puso mag-aral. Iyong mga ayaw mag-aral, tapos sige lang kayo enroll nang enroll, ay imo-monitor ko kayo (who have the heart to study. Those who don’t want to study but keep enrolling, you will be monitored),” he added.

Bello said the government was able to assist 19,325 college-level children of OFWs displaced by the pandemic under the PHP1 billion scholarship fund.

Dubbed as “Tabang OFW,” the program entitles one college-level dependent of a repatriated, displaced, or deceased OFW to receive a one-time financial assistance of PHP30,000 to augment their education expenses. (MNS)

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