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Philippine COVID-19 Response in 5Rs: Relief, Repatriation, Recovery, Return, and Reintegration

Inventaire des pratiques

Philippine COVID-19 Response in 5Rs: Relief, Repatriation, Recovery, Return, and Reintegration

Primary GCM Objectives

Principes directeurs du Pacte mondial*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Objectifs de développement durable (ODD)



Type de pratique


Geographic Scope




The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic posed several challenges to many governments. As a country of origin, the Philippines was among those severely affected – with many of its migrants finding themselves stranded on land and sea all over the world. This has prompted the Philippine government to respond to the unprecedented mass return of millions of overseas Filipinos.

Efforts to ensure the safety of its nationals back to the country can be summarized into 5Rs: Relief, Repatriation, Recovery, Return and Reintegration. This framework was established while assisting affected Filipino migrants in all stages of the migration process amidst the pandemic.

Relief. As the government’s representatives abroad, the Philippine Foreign Service Posts were tasked to provide assistance to distressed overseas Filipinos through financial and welfare assistance, temporary shelter, and eventual repatriation.

Repatriation. The pandemic enabled governments to conduct repatriation of their nationals under the lens of public health consciousness. The Philippines facilitated repatriation flights to bring home its land-based and sea-based nationals, including accommodating medical repatriation and other special concerns.

Recovery. The Philippine government ensured that there were enough public quarantine facilities, COVID-19 testing and other mandatory health protocols that repatriates could avail upon arrival. The government also stressed the critical role of economic recovery by easing border control during the pandemic.

Return. Given the archipelagic nature of the Philippines, the government assists in transporting returning overseas Filipino workers from the airport back to their home provinces and cities.

Reintegration. As returning migrants reintegrate back into society, current initiatives were made to prepare them as they await deployment whether locally or abroad. These include loan programs to provide working capital for start-ups, scholarship programs for re-skilling or up-skilling, and financial literacy trainings.


Principale(s) organisation(s) de mise en œuvre

Government of the Philippines

Partenaires impliqués

Philippine Government, Department of Foreign Affairs

Organisations partenaires/donatrices

IATF Task Group on the Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos
NAIA One-Stop Shop for Repatriation
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
Bureau of Immigration
Bureau of Quarantine
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines
Clark International Airport
Manila International Airport Authority
Department of Tourism
Department of Transportation
Department of Labor and Employment
Philippine Coast Guard
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking

Bénéfice et impact

Relief. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through its Foreign Service Posts, provided services abroad using the Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Fund and the augmented ATN Fund under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. The funds were used for the provision of emergency supplies, medicine, food, accommodation, and repatriation-related expenses to overseas Filipinos affected by COVID-19. The Department of Labor and Employment also extended a one-time US $200 cash aid for overseas Filipino workers.

Repatriation. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the Philippine government brought home 3,232,708 (as of 28 May 2022). Most of the repatriates come from the Middle East where there are large concentrations of overseas Filipino workers such as in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As of 31 May 2022, the DFA alone facilitated the repatriation of 460,383 Filipinos composed of 354,382 land-based workers and 106,001 sea-based workers, and has mounted 113 chartered flights bringing home 31,130 repatriates mostly from the Middle East.

Recovery. For the general public’s safety, every returning Filipino is required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing and strict facility-based quarantine. Flexible inbound passenger cap for commercial airlines going to the Philippines was also instituted. This is to develop more capacity to provide quarantine support to all incoming passengers. The government also established a “green lane” policy to allow crew change of seafarers, noting that seafarers are essential workers and shipment of good should remain unhampered.

Return. The Philippine government arranged and paid for the domestic flights of returning overseas Filipino workers after they tested negative for COVID-19. Prior coordination is made with local governments to alert them of the arrival and reintegration to the local communities of the repatriated Filipinos.

Reintegration. Programs for reintegration provide returning Filipino workers the necessary skillset and maintain their capacities as they find their next employment. With the pandemic still in place, the government also makes sure that its migrants are assured of safe and regular pathways for migration. There is the fast and efficient roll out of its vaccination programs and the issuance of the WHO-agreed vaccine certificate. This is a way to facilitate mobility which has been among the most affected by the pandemic.

Principales leçons

The Philippine government places importance in partnerships with states and international organizations for migrant protection, and this paid dividend when the pandemic struck. The Philippine Foreign Service Posts and agencies in the capital collaborated with host governments: to provide immediate relief; to facilitate repatriation where possible, despite lockdowns and border closures; to provide resource such as financial assistance, consular services, access to health services, testing, and treatment; and to extend temporary residence permits for those who could not be brought home. This has been instrumental in the COVID-19 response for Filipino migrants, whether they intend to stay abroad or return to the Philippines.

Most importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the focus of governments, particularly countries of origin, in the migration cycle which ordinarily starts with the pre-departure phase. It required the Philippines and the rest of the world to focus its attention on the repatriation, return, and reintegration aspects of migration. For a developing country where migrants’ remittances account for 9.3% of GDP, the large-scale repatriation of migrant workers had adverse impacts on the Philippine economy. This measure is costly and not easy to implement, but is necessary to get the Filipino people to safety and to get them back home.

Recommandations(if the practice is to be replicated)

The 5Rs would not have been possible without the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches of the Philippine government. With the mandate of states as primary duty bearers for migrants’ safety, government-led efforts are essential to bring momentum on the participation of non-government actors such as the civil society and private sector.

Finally, it is worthy to highlight the crucial role of international assistance and cooperation during this pandemic. The Philippines appreciates the assistance of countries of destination in allowing the entry of Philippine sweeper and mercy flights into their borders. Many migrant-related services can be made effective and inclusive with international collaborations and partnerships.


The 5Rs largely focused on the migration cycle’s return and reintegration aspects, which is a relatively new and essential approach in response to distressed migrant workers affected by the pandemic. Learnings from these can greatly contribute in improving practices for sustainable return and reintegration.

Date de soumission:

07 juin 2022

*Toutes les références au Kosovo doivent être comprises dans le contexte de la résolution 1244 (1999) du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies.