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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Overseas Employment Policy of the Philippines

The export of Filipino labor is an offspring of national poverty. The export of people, instead of products, has come about largely because of the high rate of unemployment and under-employment.

Particularly during the dark, debauched, and deplorable years of the Martial Law presidency, manpower export had to happen to alleviate the twin problems of unemployment and the deficit in the balance of trade.

But the dictatorial government did not even bother to formulate the courses of action that it would take if misfortune should befall its working citizens abroad. And yet, it did not forget to require homeward remittance of their earnings.

Because of the remittances, the so-called stop-gap measure fast evolved to become the country's top dollar-earning industry. Indeed, good sums of money flowed in.

But it was blood money. The remittances were accompanied by accounts of horrendous abuses suffered by Filipino workers in the hands of some foreign employers. The fate of the Contemplacions, the Magas, and the Balabagans woke the government up. Out of these tales of woe, condemned in widespread street demonstrations, the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995" (R.A. No. 8042) was passed during the Ramos Administration.

R.A. No. 8042

R.A. No. 8042, which was signed on June 7, 1995 and took effect on July 16, 1995, redefines the policy on overseas employment. It states in part: 
"While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizen shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development." (Sec. 2[c], R.A. No. 8042)


Republic Act No. 8042, furthermore, requires certain guarantee of protection for the overseas workers before they are deployed. It states: 
SEC. 4. Deployment of Migrant Workers -- The State shall deploy overseas Filipino workers only in countries where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected. The government recognizes any of the following as a guarantee for the protection of the receiving country for the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers:

(a) It has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of migrant workers;  
(b) It is a signatory to multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of migrant workers;  
(c) It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers; and  
(d) It is taking positive, concrete measures to protect the rights of migrant workers.

SEC. 5. Termination or Ban on Deployment -- Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 hereof, the government, in pursuit of the national interest or when public welfare so requires, may, at any time, terminate or impose a ban on the deployment of migrant workers.

Cesario Alvero Azucena, Jr., The Labor Code With Comments and Cases, 1999, p. 44.

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