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The Institute for Labor Studies research titled, “Survey of Filipino Migrant Worker Returnees from Qatar” was presented in the forum “Kapakanan ni Juana, Isama sa Agenda!,” in line with the celebration of women’s month, held last April 7 at the Patricia Sto. Tomas Hall, Blas F. Ople Bldg of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The forum, which was jointly organized by POEA and ILS, zeroed in on “Guiding Gender Migration and Development Policies and Practices through Research.” The welcome remarks was delivered by POEA Deputy Administrator Liberty T. Casco who talked about the importance of research support in introducing reforms in policies and programs that greatly affect the situations and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

As a primer on the ILS study, POEA Director Levinson C. Alcantara delivered his report on “Labor Market Trends in Low-Skilled Migration with Focus on Gender Migration.” Dir. Alcantara highlighted recommendations for policy and program improvement since data suggest that pre-employment services should be skills and gender-focused as most OFWs possess elementary skills. He also mentioned that overseas employment regulations must continue to factor in skills and gender concerns.

The highlights of the migration costs survey, authored by ILS Researcher Carl Rookie F. Daquio, reported on the measurement of low-skilled labor migration costs to Qatar. The report highlighted that agent processing fee averages at US$ 463.17 (approx. 31,000 Philippine pesos) and total share of worker-paid recruitment costs (out-of-pocket expense), is equivalent to one-month salary averaging US$500 (approx. 22,500 Philippine pesos). These expenses are on top of the other incidental expenses shouldered by the employees such as transportation and accommodation costs incurred while complying with exit formalities, medical costs and other government mandated expenses (ie. passport, security and exit clearance, trainings, Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar, etc).

The survey also showed the challenges in financing the migration costs of OFW, considering that 48% of the respondents had to borrow money, in the amount of a month’s salary in Qatar and mostly from relatives, in order to finance their migration. Seventy percent (70%) of the respondents’ pre-deployment engagements were mediated by private employment agencies.

While the Philippines exempts household service workers (HSWs) from paying placement fees, some still paid an average of US$ 402.41 to recruitment agencies.

The said findings were then opened to the participants for discussion. Mr. Daquio and Director Alcantara were joined by Director Ahmma Charisma Lobrin-Satumba of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), Ms. Elsa U. Villa, President of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI) and Ms. Ellene A. Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA).

POEA Deputy Administrator Amuerfina R. Reyes moderated the discussion among the members of Overseas Landbased Tripartite Consultative Council (OLTCC) and DOLE Inter-Agency Committee on Research and Statistical Matters. The Institute’s OIC- Deputy Executive Director Atty. Stephanie B. Tabladillo concluded the forum with her closing remarks.

The research was made possible with the technical support from the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership Migration and Development (KNOMAD) Program.