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                                     DRAFT - NOT FOR QUOTATION - 17 March 2009                          

Socio-Demographic Indicators
Human Development Index
Human Development Index, Rank
Gender-related Development Index
Gender-related Development Index, Rank
Population Mid-year (In millions)
Rate of Natural Increase (%)
Life Expectancy (Male/Female)
Sources: aUNDP (2007); bPopulation Reference Bureau (2008)
Economic Indicators
GDP Growth Rate (%)
GDP Per Capita (PPP US$)
GNI PPP Per Capita (US$)
Unemployment Rate
Sources: aUNDP (2007); bPopulation Reference Bureau (2008); cADB (2007)
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came into power in 2001 when former President Joseph Estrada was forced to resign. She won the 2004 presidential election, but allegations of election fraud and opponents within the military have been a source of political instability. Plots to overthrow Arroyo were uncovered in 2006 and 2007. Political corruption is the leading cause of distrust in the government. However, the country has lately experienced a strong economic growth; the economy expanded at 5.4 percent in 2006 and at 7.3 percent in the first half of 2007.[1] The migrants’ remittances have played a key role in the economy. Despite the growing economy, poverty reduction has been limited. The Philippines needs to address several problems such as income inequality and uneven regional development (that resulted in violence in Mindanao). Between 2002 and 2005, unemployment remained high at over 11 percent.
The following are among the landmark events that have had bearing on Philippines’ migration experience:
  • Enactment of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (RA 8042) (1996)
  • Taiwan and the Philippines signed an agreement allowing direct hiring of Filipino workers by Taiwanese firms (September 1999)
  • Passage of the Dual Citizenship Law (October 2002)
  • Passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Law (February 2003)
  • Launch of the Presidential Task Force against Illegal Recruitment (2004)
  • Implementation of new regulations on the deployment of domestic workers (March 2007)
The Chinese are the largest group of foreigners in the Philippines at 40,282, followed by Americans (17,369), Indians (14,098) and Koreans at 11,889. Most of the Korean residents, regardless of their legal status, are students mainly studying English. The Bureau of Immigration (BI) had issued 7,000 special study permits and 1,300 student visas to Korean students from January to May 2007. The Philippines has also become a major destination for Korean retirees. BI records show only 11,889 Koreans are documented (AMN, 15 August 2007).[2]
The Philippines is a major country of origin of labor migration. Its population living and working abroad are scattered in over 190 countries worldwide. The overseas Filipinos can be further broken down as follows: 1.2 million are permanent immigrants; 3.09 million are overseas workers; 1.2 million are in an unauthorized situation.[3]Filipino workers deployed in 2005 and 2006 numbered 988,615 and 1,083,568, respectively (AMN, 31 January 2007; AMN, 15 September 2007). The emigration of Filipino workers has been larger than that of any other Asian countries and has become a persistent trend due in part to the government’s policy on overseas employment. The government of Ferdinand Marcos actively encouraged labor outflows in the 1970s in response to high unemployment. To date, the major destinations include the Middle East countries, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Italy. Deployment to Asian countries has constantly increased and is as relevant as deployment to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia remains as the top receiving country of Filipino workers. Most Filipinos take up low-skilled jobs abroad, but the share of professionals and skilled workers in the total deployment is on the rise.[4]They accounted for 73 percent of the total new hires in the first half of 2007 (AMN, 31 August 2007). The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development ranks the Philippines as the fourth-biggest recipient of remittances (AMN, 31 October 2007). According to its report, Filipino migrants sent home a total of US$14.6 billion in 2006.
Feminization is an important feature of labor migration in the Philippines as more women are getting overseas jobs. Women migrants account for over 70 percent of newly hired OFWs between 2000 and 2005. In addition, six out of 10 newly hired OFWs in 2006 were female, most of whom were hired as domestic workers, entertainers, caregivers, nurses and health service providers (AMN, 30 November 2007). Among them, Filipino nurses make up a significant portion of all OFWs. Nursing became a popular profession among the youth. Even doctors are returning to school to become nurses and as many as 6,000 Filipino doctors have already left for abroad to take up nursing jobs since 2000. Experts are, however, worried that the continuing exodus of Filipino nurses could impair the quality of health services in the Philippines. On the other hand, the deployment of entertainers is on the down trend since 2005.[5]Japan implemented stricter immigration rules on the entry of foreign entertainers. The number of Filipino entertainers to Japan had declined, from 82,000 in 2004 to 5,000 in 2006 (AMN, 15 January 2007).
The trial and execution of Flor Contemplacion in Singapore in 1995 made the protection of Filipino migrants’ rights a hot political issue. The incident prompted the government to temporarily withdraw its ambassador to Singapore, to ratify the UN Migrant Workers Convention and to strengthen the POEA’s mandate to promote the welfare of migrant workers. Starting 1 March 2007, the Philippines set the minimum monthly wage of domestic workers at US$400 and their minimum age at 23 because they are often at a higher risk of exploitation. The government also requires prospective domestic workers to undergo competency assessment, and language proficiency and culture training. The POEA reported a drop in the deployment of Filipino workers in 2007 and local recruiters attributed the drop to the new guidelines.[6] The Philippines has entered into bilateral, regional and multilateral arrangements to increase the level of protection.[7] It recorded a deployment of 931,840 workers in the first 11 months of 2007 or some 19,000 (2 percent) lower than the 951,138 deployed during the same period in 2006 (AMN, 30 November 2007).
Many Filipinos seeking jobs abroad have fallen victims to various schemes and illegal practices. The President Task Force against Illegal Recruitment was created in 2004 to crack down errant recruiters (including syndicates issuing fake passports and visas and trafficking persons) and prosecute them. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration has pledged to fight human trafficking and crack down on the escort racket at the airport. As part of anti-trafficking efforts, Filipinos with questionable travel documents have been barred from leaving the country. Many Filipinos also leave the country as tourists but with intentions to work abroad.
The Senate passed two bills – the Dual Citizenship Law (October 2002) and the Overseas Absentee Voting Law (February 2003) – encouraging the overseas Filipino community to actively participate in development efforts and politics at home. The law granting dual citizenship to Filipinos abroad intends to encourage more overseas Filipinos to invest and work in the country and therefore enhance technology transfer. Almost 43,000 former Filipinos have reacquired their Philippine citizenships since the BI started implementing the dual citizenship law in April 2004 (AMN, 30 November 2007). Filipino-Americans topped the list of applicants, followed by those from Canada and Australia.
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
2007   “Southeast: Philippines.” In Asian Development Outlook 2007. Available at, accessed on 8 December 2008.
Asian Migration News (AMN) Various Years
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
2005   “A Survey on the Labour Emigration Management Systems of 12 Countries of Origin to the Republic of Korea: Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Timor Leste, and Uzbekistan.” Available at
Go, Stella
2006   “Country Report: Philippines.” Available at
Population Reference Bureau
2008   “2008 World Population Data Sheet.”
Available at, accessed on 21 November 2008.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
2007  “Human Development Report 2007/2008.” Available at, accessed on 9 December 2008.
World Bank
n.d.    “Philippines: Country Brief.” Available at COUNTRIES/EASTASIAPACIFICEXT/PHILIPPINESEXTN/ 0,,menuPK:332992~pagePK:141132~piPK:141107~theSitePK:332982,00.html, accessed on 2 February 2008.

[2]According to the Bureau of Immigration, more than 100,000 Koreans are irregularly staying in the Philippines (AMN, 31 July 2007). Korean sources say that Koreans living in the Philippines are estimated to be more than 100,000. The BI estimates that there are some 240,000 Koreans in the country (AMN, 15 August 2007).
[3]IOM (2005)
[4]The share of professionals and skilled workers in the total deployment increased by 2 percent from 12.4 percent in the first half of 2006 to 14.4 percent for the same period in 2007 (AMN, 31 August 2007).
[5]A total of 42,633 OPAs were deployed in 2005 and 10,615 in 2006 (AMN, 31 August 2007).
[6]Only 6,602 Filipino domestic workers were deployed abroad from 1 January to 13 August 2007, or about one-tenth of the 57,923 deployed for overseas jobs in the corresponding period last year.


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