GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Stemming Irregular Migration at the Source: The Philippine Experience
Paper Proposal Text :
The Philippines has developed an elaborate legal and institutional framework to govern the different aspects and phases of international labor migration. The institutionalization of labor migration started in the 1970s, ushered by the country’s first experience with state-organized labor migration in response to the need for workers in the Gulf countries. Although other destination countries have entered the scene, the Gulf countries continue to be major destinations of Filipino workers. Flow data on the annual deployment of overseas Filipino workers point to the enduring importance of the Gulf countries, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain figuring among the top ten destinations. Despite the regulatory mechanisms that have been in place for decades in the Philippines (and in the Gulf countries as well), irregular migration takes place. Of the stock estimate of 10.4 million overseas Filipinos as of 2012, 47 percent are permanent migrants, 40 percent are temporary migrants (largely workers), and 12.8 percent are migrants in an irregular situation. In West Asia, of the 2.8 million Filipinos in the region, the overwhelming majority are temporary migrants (86.4 percent), less than 1 percent (0.26 percent) is permanent migrants, and 13.3 percent are migrants in an irregular situation. Some country variations are notable: the United Arab Emirates has the largest share, 22.2 percent, while it is relatively smaller in Saudi Arabia, 8.5 percent. Reports of stranded workers, absconding workers, distressed workers in Filipino Workers Resource Centers, passengers being offloaded from flights to Gulf destinations, and workers transiting through Gulf countries bound for other destinations provide some indication of the scale and facets of irregular movements. Overall, the picture of irregular migration from the Philippines to the Gulf countries is very patchy and is based mostly on media reports. In an attempt to understand this phenomenon, this paper will review the literature, media reports, data, and policies and actions taken by the Philippine government to address the following questions: (1) what is the level of irregular migration from the Philippines to the Gulf countries? (2) What are the types of irregular migration in the Philippines-Gulf region corridor? What are the characteristics of migrants who are caught in an irregular migration situation? Related to this, how does irregular migration to the Gulf countries compare with irregular migration to other regions? (3) What are the policies and actions developed by the Philippine government to curb irregular migration and to support migrant workers? Efforts will be expended to interview labor attaches, welfare officers, recruitment agencies, and overseas Filipino workers concerning their experiences of and views about irregular migration in the Gulf region.