Press Statement
05 November 2022

The first five months of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) under Susan “Toots” Ople, its first secretary with an allocation from the national budget, has exposed the labor export thrust of the Bongbong Marcos regime. It shows that, under Marcos, the country’s main export will continue to be Filipinos offered up as cheap and docile labor to other countries.

The DMW’s record so far shows that the second Marcos regime does not seek to create decent jobs in the Philippines, but to continue the government’s dependence on the remittances of overseas Filipinos. The present Marcos regime does not want to make up for the first Marcos regime’s inauguration of labor export, but wants to continue this policy, despite almost 50 years that show its failure in creating development in the country. 

Migrante International condemns the government’s continuing labor export thrust under the Bongbong Marcos regime. It means the continued suffering of millions of migrant Filipinos abroad because of poor working and living conditions and being treated as second-class citizens of migrant-receiving countries. It also means the continued suffering of Filipinos from poverty, hunger and unemployment as it signals the government’s persistence in refusing to create decent jobs at home by developing industries and agriculture.

Various news reports state that Ople has hit the ground running as DMW chief. The DMW has been talking to Hungary, Croatia and other eastern European countries for possible OFW deployment, trying to open new countries aside from “traditional workplaces of OFWs.” It announced the reopening of manning agencies that aim to hire more than 5,000 seafarers. 

The DMW is also directly presiding over the hiring of 600 nurses bound for Germany. On November 7, ban on the deployment of household workers will be lifted after a moratorium was imposed due to non-payment of wages of more than 50,000 of construction workers in 2016 and non-punishment of an employer who abused a Filipina domestic worker for five years.

We likewise condemn Ople’s double-speak with regard to labor export. In her other media appearances, she has been saying that labor migration seems unavoidable and will continue in the future. At the same time, she said that “We’re not even actively marketing, wala talagang ganoon (there’s nothing like that)…” but that the ambassadors of Hungary and Romania requested that the possibility of having a labor agreement with the Philippines be explored. Ople’s actions speak louder than her words: the Marcos government is continuing to market Filipino labor to various countries. 

On the other hand, while the PH government heightened its overseas labor marketing, its compliance to the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping set by the European Union for seafarers were neglected institutionally for the past years. The government neglect will affect the estimated 50,000 Filipino seafarers. Migrante International demand for immediate action and accountability. While those officials responsible must be investigated.

Since the Marcos dictatorship started labor export in the 1970s, the country has increasingly become a service economy, with agriculture and manufacturing registering a declining share of the national economy. The service economy is notorious for being the hub of precarious work. In the first National Migration Survey conducted in 2018, majority of migrant Filipinos cited lack of decent job opportunities in the Philippines as reason for leaving the country. 

Since Marcos Sr. exporting human labor became the no. 1 source of dollar revenues for the country through remittances and various mandatory fees. Likewise, since then it became a major part of the economic blueprint of the country.###