The current age of globalization has faded international borders and stimulated multiculturalism. In this context, the Philippines is among the largest migrant countries of origin in the world. Over the past decades, outward migration has shaped Philippine society in many ways. Initially intended as a temporary measure to catalysed economic development, migration is now a major contributing economic force. Since four decades, labour migration has had positive and negative effects on the Philippines.
The effects of migration are not confined to the Philippine economy alone. Migration has increased to over ten per cent of the Philippine population, or more than 10 million Filipinos, changing the social and cultural climate of the country. While it contributes to the international character of the Philippines, labour migration has torn Filipino seafarers and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from their families for decades. Limited employment opportunities in the Philippines encourage Filipinos to pursue a brighter future abroad. Apart from the financial incentives, Filipinos migrate for their desire to live abroad, personal development and many other reasons
The majority of the Filipino migrants are deployed to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. While the Philippine government seeks to ensure that the rights of Filipinos abroad are adequately protected, the reality on the grounds is often very different. Migrants remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse including contract violations, sexual harassment, violence and discrimination.
Philippine migration is becoming increasingly gendered. Domestic Workers, of whom 90 per cent are women, accounted for one-thirds of the total 2012 deployment of new hires. Domestic workers and other low skilled workers often work in an deregulated environment making them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Migration must be viewed through a gender paradigm by addressing the specific vulnerabilities of men and women.
The Philippine government is internationally praised for its model of labor migration. As State party to virtually all international conventions promoting the rights and welfare of migrants worldwide, the Philippines attempts to ensure the safety of their nationals overseas . Moreover, the government has enacted countless laws and policies protecting the right of Filipinos overseas. Despite the government’s effort to protect their OFWs and seafarers, many Filipino migrants find themselves in a vulnerable position. The implementation of the laws and policies have proved to be problematic, ineffective and reactive. Human and material resources designated for OFWs are insufficient to ensure their safety and welfare.
As a strategy for development, migration has not achieved its desired affects. The Philippines is reliant on remittances while national industries are declining. The brain drain inhibits genuine economic development as more and more high educated professional leave the country to perform low skilled jobs overseas and the transfer of technology is largely overstated.