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Microsoft Word crm-ptmt el Salvador 2009[final]. doc

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Workshop on Temporary Migrant Workers Programs

 

 

58

5. Philippine Approach for Managing Temporary  

Migrant Workers Program  

Manuel Imson 

A. Introducción 

The Philippines has long recognized that the best way to benefit optimally from the gains of migration 

is by managing this appropriately and deliberately. It is expected to minimize social costs while 

maximizing gains through a migration policy that is anchored on contract migration where overseas 

Filipino workers (OFWs) are allowed to exercise their rights to gain employment overseas for a 

definite period, under fair and specified terms and conditions, and welcomed to return to the 

Philippines when their contract expires. This approach ensures that the “3 Rs” of circular migration, 

namely: recruitment, remittances and returns, are realized, creating the space for Filipino workers to 

continue contributing to the development not only of the Philippines as a sending country but to that 

of the economies in the receiving country as well. 

As early as 1974, the Philippine government put in place the necessary systems and procedures, 

along with instrumentalities, to put our migration policies into action. Allowing the Philippine 

government to mainstream the management of migration within the country’s national development and 

foreign policies are two significant legislations --- the Philippine Labor Code of 1974 and later, the 

Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. These legislations outline our framework for a 

stable and sustainable migration policy that governed the deployment of millions of Filipinos all over the 

world. Over a million Filipinos leave the country each year as temporary migrants. And, through this 

program, we generate as much as $12 billion in terms of yearly remittances.  

Within the context of protecting our workers as a policy, it is clear that the task of the 

government is to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of migration to the workers, their 

families and the country as a whole. This is a achieved by setting up mechanisms for the orderly and 

systematic facilitation and documentation of workers, and adequate protection to minimize abuses and 

exploitation before, during and after employment. 

B. Elements in the Framework for Managing Temporary Migration 

The Philippines has come a long way in addressing challenges and lessons learned in managing 

temporary migration for the past decades. Following are the policy issues that have, at times, 

challenged the government’s mandate in regulating and monitoring migration and, at the same time, 

have contributed to some of the defining features of migration management in the Philippines. They 

are: private sector participation, pre-employment services, documentation of employers and workers, 

standard employment contract implementation and dispute settlement system, on-site welfare 

assistance, reintegration system and irregular migration. 

Private Sector Participation through a Licensing System 

Overseas employment of Filipino workers used to be under the complete control of the 

government until the policy shifted to allow private sector participation and even foreign equity of up 

to 25%. Despite the relaxation of the investment policy in overseas employment, the government 

continues to exercise regulatory authority over private recruitment agencies, through a licensing 

system. The license is a granted privilege that is subject to compliance with certain conditions and can 

be withdrawn or cancelled anytime.  

For the past decade, there is a clamor for wider and deeper participation among private 

stakeholders in overseas employment. The sector has been consistently exerting pressure for 

government to further deregulate by removing the regulatory functions on licensing and 

documentation of workers including the setting of standards like placement fees even to vulnerable 



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