Philippine Labor Migration Policy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Philippine Labor Migration Policy of the Philippine government allows and encourages emigration. The Department of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the government's arms of emigration, grants Filipinos passports that allow entry to foreign countries. The Philippine government enacted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042) in order to "institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers and their families and overseas Filipinos in distress."[citation needed]

Profile of Philippine Migrant Worker[edit]

Number of Filipino Migrant[edit]

A chart on the number of Filipino Migrants.[1]

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Permanent 2,551,549 2,736,528 2,807,356 2,865,412 3,187,586 3,931,138 3,556,035 3,692,257 3,907,842 4,056,940
Temporary 2,991,125 3,049,622 3,167,978 3,385,001 3,599,257 3,651,727 3,802,345 4,133,970 3,626,259 3,846,068
Irregular 1,840,448 1,625,936 1,607,170 1,512,765 1,297,005 881,123 874,792 900,023 653,609 658,370
Total 7,383,122 7,412,086 7,582,504 7,763,178 8,083,848 7,924,188 8,233,172 8,726,520 8,187,710 8,579,378


According to the World Bank, 4,275,200 Filipinos have emigrated out of the country as of 2010. Among those who travel abroad are Overseas Contractual Workers (41%), immigrants (29%) and those who are undocumented (30%). As of 2009, 1,422,586 Filipino workers have contributed to remittances from abroad.[2] According to the book Philippine Labour Migration, these workers can be categorized into eight criteria, by type, countries of deployment, gender, rural or urban origin, civil status, age, education and skills, and occupation.

Main Destinations[edit]

Top destinations of Filipinos are within Asia and the Middle East, especially as seen in the data from 2007 to 2009. Saudi Arabia has become home to 291,419 Filipinos, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 196,815, as of 2009.

Number of Deployed Landbased Overseas Filipino Workers by Major Groups, 2005-2009 [2]

Major Group 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Asia 259,209 222,940 218,983 219,598 260,995
Middle East 394,419 462,545 487,878 631,828 669,042
Europe 52,146 59,313 45,613 51,795 47,409
Americas 14,886 21,976 28,019 31,916 31,146
Africa 9,103 9,450 13,126 16,434 18,967
Oceania 2,866 5,126 10,691 15,030 13,297
Trust Territories 7,596 6,481 6,674 5,461 5,134

Usual Occupations[edit]

One of the recent trends in Filipino contractual workers is that as years pass by, more and more women have traveled out of the country, outnumbering the men. This can be attributed to the fact that domestic helpers and entertainers are in-demand globally. In fact entertainers destined for Japan and other East Asian countries have increased from 3.3% to 18.9% in a span of a decade from 1983-1984. As of 2009, the most Filipinos work as household service workers. Out of the total of 71, 557 household workers, 69,669 are women. Number of Deployed Landbased Overseas Filipino Workers by Major Occupational Category, 2005-2009[3]

Major Group 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Professional, Medical, Technical and Related Workers 63,941 41,258 43,225 49,649 47,886
Managerial and Administrative Workers 490 817 1,139 1,516 1,290
Clerical Workers 5,538 7,912 13,662 18,101 15,403
Sales Workers 4,261 5,517 7,942 11,525 8,348
Service Workers 133,907 144,321 107,135 123,332 138,222
Agricultural Workers 350 807 952 1,354 1,349
Production Workers 74,802 103,584 121,715 132,295 117,609
Others 996 3,906 10,613 494 1,645

Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)[edit]

A chart on the remittances of OFWs in thousand dollars [4]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Land-Based 6,280,235 7,085,441 9,019,647 10,812,018 12,213,565 13,392,301 13,947,640 14,956,881
Sea-Based 1,298,223 1,464,930 1,669,358 1,949,290 2,236,363 3,034,553 3,400,412 3,806,108
Total Remittances 7,578,458 8,550,371 10,689,005 12,761,308 14,449,928 16,426,854 17,348,052 18,762,989

Migration Policies[edit]

History of Migration Policies[edit]

The history of Philippine Labor Migration policies can be traced as far back as 1565, when Filipinos started working in the dockyards and aboard ships travelling as far as Mexico, under the mandate of Spanish colonizers. In order to escape maltreatment by the Spaniards, many of those Filipino workers resorted to “jumping ship”, settling in state ports like Acapulco, Mexico and Louisiana, USA. They were the first generation of Filipino labor migrants. Since then, three “waves” of labor migration occurred (in the 1900-1940’s, the 1940s-1970’s, and the 1970s-1990’s),[5] each wave taking the Philippines closer to becoming one of the world’s largest labor exporting countries, as it is today.

The third wave of migration that took place in the 1970s was due to the economic downturn caused by an increase in crude oil prices. At this time, job loss in the country was tremendous. On the other side of the globe, however, oil-exporting countries were making large profits and this created a demand for more laborers to support their new projects. Marcos saw this as a chance to utilize the Philippines’ surplus labor and he created a foreign policy called “Development Diplomacy,” which focused on exporting such surplus labor. In 1980, the number of overseas workers set for deployment by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had increased by 75% from that of the previous year.[5]

Current Government Policies[edit]

Around four centuries after the first Filipino laborers migrated, a law on Philippine labor migration was finally enacted in 1995. The creation of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (RA 8042) was triggered by the growing pressures on the Philippines imposed by the murder case of Flor Contemplacion.[5] This case almost severed bilateral ties between the Philippines and Singapore (Contemplacion’s host country), negatively affecting the former’s economy with a $61.3B decrease in investments by the latter.[5] Graver than the economic distress caused by the Contemplacion case, was the reality it symbolized for the Filipinos. It was the final blow in a long struggle against the abuse suffered by Filipino migrant workers in their host countries. Besides that, other problems also existed, such as the abundance of so-called "tourist workers"—workers who migrated without going through the due process of labor migration and the proper briefing provided by regulatory government agencies.[6] Faced with such problems, RA 8042 was created with its goal: "to institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers and their families and overseas Filipinos in distress."[6]

RA 8042 provided mechanisms to protect Filipino labor migrants from issues such as illegal recruitment and abuse by their employers. Some of the services that the government was to provide as stipulated in the law (Articles II-V) were the following:[6]

  • To prevent illegal recruitment: issuance of travel advisories & information dissemination on labor and employment conditions and migration to be published thrice a quarter in a general circulation newspaper; creation of the Migrant Workers Loan Guarantee Fund of P100M for pre-departure and family loans of migrant workers
  • To aid migrant workers in distress in their host countries: creation of Emergency Repatriation Fund of at least P100M for repatriation of migrant workers in times of war, epidemic, disasters (natural or manmade), etc.
  • To enforce migrant workers’ rights in their host countries: establishment of Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center which will provide, among many others, counsel and legal services, welfare assistance (medical services), post-arrival orientation, settlement and community networking services, human resource development (skills training), monitoring of daily situations of migrant workers, etc.; Rights and Enforcement Mechanisms Under International Human Rights Systems by the DFA (which will see to it that Filipino migrant workers who are victims of abuse and violation will receive the treatment they deserve under international human rights systems)
  • For returning Filipino migrant workers: establishment of re-placement and monitoring center which will aid their reintegration into the Philippine society by developing livelihood programs and promoting their local employment, among other services
  • Legal Services: creation of Legal Assistance Fund of P100M that will be used exclusively to provide legal services to Filipino migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress

In 2001, the Arroyo administration took a new stand regarding migrant workers. While RA 8042 stipulates that "the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development… [rather], the existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizen shall not, at any time be compromised or violated,"[6] President Arroyo declared overseas employment as a "legitimate option for the country’s work force. As such, government shall fully respect labor mobility, including the preference for overseas employment." Such statement signaled the shift of the government’s role from merely managing migrant workers in their ventures abroad to actively promoting "international labor migration as a growth strategy, especially of the higher skilled, knowledge-based workers." [7]

In 2001–04, the following employment-promoting strategies were put action: enhancing the skills and competencies of the Philippine labor market by giving them easier access to training programs, facilitating employment by providing updated information on job opportunities to ensure the matching of workers’ skills and jobs, etc.[7]

In 2010, RA 10022 or an Act Amending RA 8042 was enacted. The amendments to the law sought to further improve the protection mechanisms provided for Filipino migrant workers.[7]

From 1565 to 2010, the face of Philippine Labor Migration had continued to evolve. Today, this stronger, systematized policy that the country adopts is one that neighboring countries like for example Indonesia try to emulate. [8]

Macroeconomic Effects of Migration[edit]

Economic Benefits[edit]


The volume of OFWs working abroad as a proportion of the labor force of the country has increased dramatically. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of Filipinos working abroad grew by 11% and it is now estimated that 10.8% of the labor force is an OFW. During the 1990s the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) calculated that the country needed to create at least one million jobs annually in order to reach full employment by the year 2000. However, in 1994 only 415,000 jobs became available while the country's labor force increased by around 700,000.[5]

It was observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that the country’s full employment goal couldn’t be met with the domestic labor conditions and only through sending contract workers overseas could the country provide jobs for its people. Therefore, unemployment alleviation is one benefit from labor migration.[5]


For countries like the Philippines, remittances are the main benefit of labor migration. With higher wages abroad, money can be sent back to the workers' families in the Philippines and this money is either consumed or saved. Therefore, remittances from abroad increase consumption in the source country and create more demand for goods. Either through formal banking channels (where the government is able to measure foreign exchange) or through informal channels, the money circulates within the source country and helps stimulate the economy.

Furthermore, families who receive remittances tend to have a higher financial status. A slight decrease in poverty levels has been observed as a result. On the other hand, there is no clear negative relationship between income inequality and remittances in the Philippines.[9]

Total OFW remittances have been increasing for the past 35 years. In 1990, the yearly remittances reached the one billion US dollar mark and 10 years later, in 2010, had increased to 18 billion US dollars.[4][5] Between 2005 and 2010 there was a 75 percent increase in remittances.

Remittances have helped stabilize the government’s national accounts. From 1975 to 1994, these remittances accounted for 2.6% of the country’s gross national product (GNP). However, according to the 2011 figures, remittances rose to around 11.17% of the country’s GNP.[10] NEDA economists believe that without these earnings from abroad, economic growth would be much lower. The country’s GNP grew because of high rates of OFW remittances and the government believed that the money remitted was used to help start-up small businesses, boost consumer spending and enable small-scale construction.[5]

Foreign Exchange Reserves and Debt Repayment[edit]

As of 2012 the country has huge debts, but the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) foreign exchange remittances have kept the country's debts from increasing to critical levels. Not only is foreign debt being paid with these remittances but they are also used as collateral for new loans. Furthermore, they help to improve the balance of payments and reduce the trade gap. Foreign exchange reserves mainly come from labor migration and OFW remittances have surpassed the export sector in producing foreign exchange. For this reason the government is supporting overseas deployment of the labor force which has reached around one million Filipinos per year.[11]

Economic Drawbacks[edit]

Decrease in Labor Force[edit]

Although the labor force of the country has been increasing, labor migration has caused a lack of skilled workers, especially specialist workers who choose to work abroad for higher wages. As well as the social issues caused by OFWs and those they leave behind, the decrease in specialists has forced companies and government agencies to hire less experienced workers for highly skilled jobs.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stock Estimate of Overseas Filipinos. Commission on Filipino Overseas. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  2. ^ a b The Philippines. World Bank. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  3. ^ Overseas Employment Statistics. POEA. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Overseas Filipinos' Remittances. (2011). Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Battistella, Graziano, Philippine labor migration : impact and policy (Quezon City : Scalabrini Migration Center), 1992.
  6. ^ a b c d Philippine Republic Act 8042
  7. ^ a b c Go, Stella. "Remittances and International Labour Migration: Impact on the Philippines: Philippine Migration Research Network." Research paper, De La Salle University, Manila, 2002.
  8. ^ M. Scott Solomon, 2009, State-led Migration, Democratic Legitimacy, and Deterritorialization: The Philippines' labour export model, European Journal of East Asian Studies 8 (2)
  9. ^ Son, Hyun H., The Role of Labor Market in Explaining Growth and Inequality: The Philippines Case. Asian Development Bank, 9-11.
  10. ^ Data – By Country – Philippines – Download Data. (n.d.). World Bank. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  11. ^ Opiniano, Jeremiah M. ''Migrants will pay the high cost of FATF sanctions". OFW Corner: OFW Journalism Consortium.
  12. ^ Tereso S. Tullao, Jr. and Michael Angelo A. Cortez Tullao, Tereso S. Jr. and Cortez, Michael Angelo A. ''Movement of Natural Persons Between the Philippines and Japan: Issues and prospects". Philippine APEC Study Center Network.

External links[edit]

  • Migration and Foreign Remittances in the Philippines [1]