Welcome to the Country Profile page of Philippines. Below you can find information and news on the country related to migration and development, what projects are going on in the JMDI and key documents or resources related to the projects or country itself.


Political and decentralization context:

Adopting a presidential form of government, the Philippines is a centralized unitary government entity but with a decentralized local government. The subnational level (alternately used as local government unit or LGU) comprises 80 provinces, 114 cities, 1,496 municipalities and 41,945 barangays or villages. These LGUs are further grouped into 17 regions, mostly by reason of proximity, cultural and language similarity. Except in the special case of the Cordillera Administration Region and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, these regions have no governing authority, LCE or administrators. Instead, a regional development council (RDC) has been created and is composed of various representatives from the LCEs within the region who will elect from among themselves the RDC Chair, in addition to the representatives from the private sector, academe, civil society and faith-based organizations within the region. In the absence of an RDC chair, the NEDA regional office assumes in an acting capacity in addition to being the secretariat.

The passage of the Local Government Code (LGC) of the Philippines in 1991 represented a major step forward in decentralizing and de-concentrating local government financing and resource management expenditure responsibilities. Local autonomy was advanced by expanding local government taxing authority and devolving expenditure responsibilities. The LGC devolved to LGUs the principal responsibility for the delivery of basic services and the operation of facilities in: (i) agricultural extension and research, (ii) social forestry, (iii) environmental management and pollution control, (iv) primary health and hospital care, (v) social welfare services, (v) repair and maintenance of infrastructure, (vi) water supply and communal irrigation, and (vi) land use planning.

Each of the 17 regions has their individual regional development plan putting into local contexts the applicable provisions in the PDP and depending on their migration profile.


Development context:

Despite widespread poverty, in 2012, The Philippines’ economy outpaced the growth of its neighboring countries with 6.6 percent growth rate.  Despite the global food and fuel crises, gross domestic product (GDP) peaked at 7.1 percent in 2007 and continued to grow at 3.8 percent in 2008. The country was much less affected by the global financial debacle as compared to other countries: GDP slowed to 1.1 percent in 2009 but recovered to 7.3 percent in 2010, bucking all estimates. At the end of 2009, the Philippines graduated to the rank of ‘lower Middle-Income Country,’ which implies less reliance on aid and greater capacity to shape its own development.

In terms of human development, Philippines is classified as a medium-HDI country and is ranked 114th out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2012, Philippines’ life expectancy at birth increased by 5.8 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.8 years and expected years of schooling increased by 1.3 years. Similarly, the Philippines’ GNI per capita increased by about 35 percent from 2,786 in 1980 to 3,752 in 2012, thus signifying a relatively strong capacity for leveraging its incomes for human development outcomes.

The Philippines has important policy frameworks and plans in place for sustainable human development, including the National Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act, the National Human Rights Action Plan, and the Magna Carta of Women. Acceleration plans and strategies for Millennium Development Goals achievement have been incorporated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016.

Migration and development is not a central theme, objective or strategy in the Plan (in harmony with the policy embedded in the Migrant Workers Act[1]) but it is integrated in the seven of nine critical chapters – from pursuit of inclusive growth to competitive industry and social development. 


Migratory context:

The Philippines has a long history of international migration starting way back 1906. For nearly five decades starting in the 70s, the international mobility of Filipinos has expanded and diversified not just in numbers but also in countries of destination, profile of migrants, nature of work and complexity in transnational movement. Based on the 2013 Stock Estimates of Overseas Filipinos[2], about 10.48 million are living and working in more than 210 countries and territories worldwide, mainly in the US and Canada, Middle East and South East Asia, Europe and Australia. The percentage of permanent migrants is 47%, temporary migrants is 40% and irregular migrants is 13% of the total number.

Top destination countries are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar, Kuwait, Taiwan, Italy, Malaysia and Bahrain. Top occupational groupings include service workers, production workers, professional/ technical workers, and clerical workers.

For emigrants and permanent residents[3], top destination countries are: USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, South Korea and Spain. In terms, of sex, 40% are males and 60 are females. For age, 19 below – 31%; 20-29 – 23%; 30-39 – 19%; 40-49 – 10%; 50-59 – 8% and 60 onwards – 9%.


Key local, national laws and bilateral or international agreements related to M&D:

With the steady outflow of Filipinos since the 1970s, the Philippines had developed a comprehensive institutional and legal framework in ensuring the protection of rights and promotion of welfare of its migrant population. The Philippines has elaborate legislations, policies and programs to promote the empowerment of migrants; it has also ratified international instruments protecting migrants’ rights.

The main thrust of the Philippine migration policy was established in the 1974 Labor Code of the Philippines  and it consisted of, among others, the management of overseas deployment and protection of Filipino migrants. It is the first sending country in Asia to come up with a law (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, amended in 2010 by Republic Act 10022) for the specific purpose of protecting its migrant population.

In addition to the Migrant Workers Act, the Philippines enacted other laws not just to protect the rights of migrants but also to empower and provide them with more incentives and benefits:

The Philippines has also ratified several international instruments such as the 1990 International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; the 2000 Protocols to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and Against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; and the ILO Convention 97 (Migration for Employment Convention); 143 (Migrant Workers (Supplementary) Provisions); and 189 (Domestic Workers Convention).


The following organizations are working on Migration and Development-related issues in The Philippines:  

Government Agencies

Department of Foreign Affairs

Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies

Commission on Filipinos Overseas

National Economic and Development Authority

Civil Society Organizations

Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative

Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation

Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos

Migrant Forum in Asia

Scalabrini Migration Center

Center for Migrants Advocacy

International and Donor Organizations

Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines

International Organization for Migration

International Labor Organization

UN Women


Key documents for this country:

Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

IOM Country Migration Report The Philippines 2013

Transnational Bridges: Migration, Development and Solidarity in the Philippines (MAPID)

Brick by Brick: Building Cooperation between the Philippines and the Migrant Associations in Spain and Italy

Minding the Gap: Migration, Development and Governance in the Philippines (MAPID)


JMDI Projects


Project 1

“Mainstreaming migration and development into the governance of local authorities in the Bicol Region”

Where: Bicol Region

Context: The Bicol Region is an important sending region of Overseas Filipinos (OFs) and is home to local institutions that have distinguished themselves in promoting and mainstreaming M&D issues at the local level. Indeed, the region has recently supported a research programme on the challenges faced by Filipino migrant workers, but also on the opportunities created by OFs in the region. In addition, the City government worked with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) to scale up Naga’s experience at the provincial and municipal levels. The CFO supported the provincial government of Pangasinan in the establishment its own provincial Migration and Development Council which seeks to mainstream M&D issues into the new Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP).

Objectives: mainstream M&D issues into local development planning by raising the awareness of key Bicol local governments on the strategic value of M&D issues, developing the capacity of selected Bicol local government units (LGUs) to deal with M&D issues; establishing and institutionalizing local structures and mechanisms promoting M&D in the selected Bicol LGUs; and developing local projects and services for the overseas Filipino sector; improve the provision of social and economic services for overseas Filipinos.

Partner organization(s): Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), Ateneo de Naga University (ASSRC & CLG), Associates in Research and Community Empowerment Services (ARCES), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Office, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office.

Beneficiaries: Direct beneficiaries: local government units within the Bicol region, migrants and their families, academia, CSO, the private sector, and the people's council; Indirect beneficiaries: six provincial governments, seven cities and three capital towns in the Bicol region.

Duration: 22 months

Contribution from the JMDI: USD 230,000


Project 2

‘Strengthening, upscaling and mainstreaming International Migration and Development (SUMMID)’

Where: Region IV-A

Context: Composed of five provinces (Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Rizal), Region IV-A (Calabarzon) is a major sending region of overseas Filipinos (OFs). According to the 2010 National Statistics Office data, the region registered the highest number of overseas Filipinos. Most of the overseas workers from the region are working in Europe, particularly Italy, Germany, Spain and the United Kindgom, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Singapore. The region has long experienced important influxes of remittances. Indeed, an estimated US $ 26.7 million in annual remittances was received by the region from 2010 to 2012. Despite the benefits derived from remittances, local government units (LGUs) are not fully aware of the potential of migrants as key partners and players in economic development. Within this context, the non-governmental organization, Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) have been implementing capacity building activities for LGUs and established One Stop Migration Resource Centres to support migrants and their families make the most of their migration experience.

Objectives: strengthen, upscale and mainstream migration and development in development policies at the local level through inclusive and sustainable programmes that will minimize social cost and maximize gains of overseas migration.

Partner organization(s): Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives Inc, Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Local Government Academy (LGA)

Beneficiaries: Five provinces in Region IV-A and top five sending cities/municipalities per province that will benefit from the various capacity building sessions and training; Migrants and their families in Region IV-A and other migrants in major destination countries who will benefit from the investment and financial education course and will be provided with additional information and options for economic activities; Members of CMD who will benefit from the capacity building and training; NGOs and private sector groups involved in M&D initiatives such as the chambers of commerce, microfinance groups, cooperatives, remittance agents, banks; Members of the community who will benefit from jobs and economic opportunities provided by resources of overseas Filipinos

Duration: 22 months

Contribution from the JMDI: USD 250 000


For more information, contact the JMDI Focal Point: Golda Myra Roma,


[1] Republic Act 8042

[2] Data is from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Department of Foreign Affairs through the Philippine Embassies and Consulates Overseas

M4D Library

As elements of globalization contribute more and more to diaspora size, mobilization, and qualitative expansion of potential contributions, the time has come for more concerted research of actual and potential diaspora contributions and at least preliminary exploration of strategic policies and programs to support them. This volume seeks to contribute to this ongoing...