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Monday, July 15, 2024

3 Pinoys hurt in Taiwan quake; SSS offers special calamity loan

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Three Filipinos were hurt from the major earthquake that struck Taiwan on Wednesday morning, Manila Economic and Cultural Office chairman Silvestre Bello III said on Thursday.

Bello said among the injured was a female overseas Filipino worker named Sylvia, who sustained a swollen hand.

“Among our compatriots, there are three who are considered casualties, but they only have minor injuries,” he said in a radio interview.

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Taiwan’s east coast before 8 a.m. on Wednesday, knocking down buildings and triggering tsunami alerts.

It was the strongest to shake the island in decades.

Meanwhile, the Department of Migrant Workers assured the public it is continuously monitoring the situation of OFWs on the island following the powerful tremor.

“The DMW’s three Migrant Workers Offices in Taiwan immediately activated protocols with Filipino communities, leaders, relevant Taiwan government agencies as well as employers and trade associations to ascertain the safety and status of Taiwan-based OFWs,” it said in a statement.

Based on DMW’s data, 67,475 OFWs are currently based in Taiwan.

The Social Security System said it is extending a special calamity loan program to its affected OFW members in Taiwan.

“We have calamity loans in the Philippines, but we don’t have calamity loans abroad. I think this is the first time. I’ve already recommended to the Social Security Commission (SSC) that we should allow workers in Taiwan affected by this earthquake to be able to avail of our financial assistance,” SSS president and chief executive Rolando Macasaet told reporters.

Macasaet said there are about 10,000 active members working in Taiwan who were affected by the earthquake.

“So, for the first time, we will be extending a calamity loan of up to P20,000,” he said.

Macasaet said the guidelines for the calamity loan will be issued on April 8, 2024, subject to the approval of the SSC, which is chaired by Finance Secretary Ralph Recto.

Under the local calamity loan assistance program of the SSS, the maximum loan of up to P20,000 is payable for 24 months and has an interest rate of 10 percent per annum.

Besides the calamity loan, Macasaet said its members affected in Taiwan can also avail of medical and disability benefits.

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