In its sixth installment of the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) Program’s Thursday Talks: Webinar Series on Socio-Political and Economic Perspectives, the Development Academy of the Philippines, through its Center for Governance-Policy Research Office (CFG-PRO), tackled issues on migration governance in a webinar held on 27 October 2022.

The webinar delved into the Philippine migration experience and analyzed the country’s current migration governance in order to develop more responsive policy actions that will protect migrant workers and promote inclusive and sustainable development.

Dr. Jeremiah M. Opiniano, Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication and Media Studies of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), provided an overview of the Philippine migration experience. He discussed essential terms and concepts in the discourse of migration, profiled overseas Filipinos, and highlighted issues faced by migrant workers abroad.

Among the issues highlighted is the feminization of migration which looks at how “women are being tapped especially for domestic work.” Dr. Opiniano also touched on family unity issues, noting that “international migration is a family disruption issue.” He highlighted the Philippine policy framework of international migration and development, and gave possible areas for legislation based on the outcomes of labor migration and in improving its management.

Meanwhile, Atty. Francis Ron C. De Guzman, Assistant Secretary from the Licensing and Adjudication Service of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), introduced his agency and its mandate, vision, and functions. He said that the recently established department aims to “build a home” to protect and empower overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families, and consolidates seven government agencies in charge of OFW-related matters.

Atty. De Guzman enumerated the various programs led by the DMW for OFWs, including repatriation and reintegration efforts as well as the digital transformation of its services to promote efficient processes. Noting the numerous challenges in managing labor migration affairs, he shared some policy strategies the DMW is taking up to provide more quality services and to improve migration regulation and workers’ welfare such as efficient services, effective regulation, capacity building, and e-governance.

(From top-left, clockwise: UST Assistant Professor Dr. Jeremiah M. Opiniano, DMW Assistant Secretary Atty. Francis Ron C. De Guzman, KCFI Managing Trustee Mr. Erwin R. Puhawan, and CMA Philippines Executive Director Ms. Ellene A. Sana)

Panel discussants Ellene A. Sana, Executive Director of Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)-Philippines, and Erwin R. Puhawan, Managing Trustee of the Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. (KCFI), shared their insights on current situations and practices in migration governance and conveyed possible implications and recommendations for legislation. In her analysis of the policies and programs on labor migration vis-a-vis experiences of overseas Filipinos, Sana emphasized that “the goal is to make migration a choice and one not out of compulsion or necessity.” Similarly, Puhawan cited several issues Filipino migrant workers face overseas, including rampant victim blaming by recruitment agencies, and elaborated on adjacent discourses on migration, namely, climate migration and digitalization of labor migration.

Dr. Jorge V. Tigno, Professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of the Philippines – Diliman, who moderated the webinar, synthesized the webinar’s key highlights by noting the importance of data in policymaking, the multi-dimensional context of migration, and issues of the overseas employment program that hinder development.

The livestream of this event can be accessed through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at Watch out for the next webinar on “Securing Affordable and Accessible Housing for Filipinos” on 17 November 2022.

Maria Patricia Alexandra T. Vargas