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Challenges and Future Development | Philippines |

Philippines Historical Development Immigration and Immigration Policies Emigration and Emigration Policies Citizenship and Naturalization Refuge and Asylum Irregular Migration Challenges and Future Development References

Challenges and Future Development

Michael R.M Abrigo

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Labourer on a Manila building site. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Lack of Reliable Data

While immigration issues are not as prominent as those of emigration, largely because of scale, it is important to understand how immigrants and immigration continue to shape the development of the Philippines. As globalization continues to deepen and broaden economic ties among countries, immigration is expected to increase not just in number but also in the variety of reasons. The availability and accessibility of relevant statistics are thus important in order to be able to respond to challenges that this may impose, and to be able to fully harness the economic and social benefits it could bring. The immediate economic benefits from the international migration of Filipino workers are apparent. However, the impacts of migration transcend what is immediate and economic. Although there is a great deal of research on migration in the Philippines, topics are constrained by the availability of data. The long term impacts of emigration, including the large inflow of foreign exchange, on different levels of social organization are just starting to be understood.

Better Coordination Among Government Agencies

The intricate network of government infrastructures to manage the flow of Filipino migrant workers reflects the complexity of the migration process and how policies are shaped to respond to issues concerning migrant workers and their families. While these institutions are instrumental in ensuring the protection and promotion of workers’ welfare there is still room for improvements. Recent reviews of some principal frontline service offices show the necessity for better coordination among government agencies in crafting policies, as well as the need for more staff to effectively implement them. More effective articulation of policies among stakeholders is also in order.

Reintegration of Migrant Workers

The recent world economic crisis has shown both the vulnerability and resilience of Filipino migrant workers. While the stock of Filipino international migrants declined during the peak of the crisis, the growth in the number of processed and deployed workers only slowed and picked up again quickly. Some observers attribute this to the skills set possessed by Filipino migrant workers, as well as their distribution in increasingly more dispersed territories. The crisis likewise underscored the need for an effective reintegration program, which may go beyond the scope of just any one governmental agency. Social and economic preparation of migrant workers and their families should be matched with complementing services and infrastructures to fully harness the knowledge and skills obtained by them through the course of the migration cycle.

Regional Cooperation

Finally, unilateral state policies protecting and promoting migrant workers’ welfare are continuously being challenged by the increasing integration of the global economy. Greater regional integration in Southeast Asia in 2015, through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community Blueprint, is expected to ease the flow of skilled migrant workers among countries in the region. Conversely, porous boundaries that transcend modern geopolitical demarcations are a frequent source of friction between the Philippines and some neighboring countries, especially on the issue of irregular and low-skilled worker migration. How these realties converge to influence the effectiveness of domestic policies on migration are yet to be seen.

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Michael R.M. Abrigo is Research Specialist at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the PIDS.
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