The Philippines: Beyond Labor Migration, Toward Development and (Possibly) Return

Maruja M.B. Asis
Date of Publication: 
July, 2017
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

The Philippines has a significant culture of migration and is a major labor exporter worldwide. Ten million Filipinos, around 10 percent of the population, are working abroad, primarily in the Middle East and Asia. Thanks to an improved economy in recent years, the Philippines is now developing policies for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). This study examines the evolving labor policies of the last few decades and shows how the country is incorporating migration into its long-term development planning. This report begins with an overview of Filipino migration, both permanent and temporary, going back to 1898 and covering countries of settlement and types of jobs filled by Filipinos. In the 1970s, the Philippines created an overseas employment program and developed policies to protect OFWs living abroad from exploitation. While mindful of the importance of remittances, the government, however, paid little attention to the potential of OFWs to bring their skills and experience back to the Philippines for development purposes. Migration was never included in national and regional development plans. In 2014, the National Economic Development Authority, the government agency involved in development planning, created a subcommittee to improve coordination between migration-related agencies and promote development related to migration. The new Philippine Development Plan gives attention to OFWs to strengthen their engagement in governance and ensure smooth reintegration. The Philippines is now a global leader in discussions on migration and development. The next steps for the country may include setting up migrant resource centers in local communities and integrating migration in local development plans. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Asis, M. M. B. (2017). The Philippines: Beyond Labor Migration, Toward Development and (Possibly) Return. (Profile). Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from