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Creation of the Department of Migrant Workers created under Republic Act No. 11641

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

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

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2019 - 2021

Type of practice

Policy (including law, public measure)

Geographic scope



Sub Regions:


Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law the Republic Act (RA) No. 11641 creating the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). A Transition Committee is mandated by the new law to facilitate the transition period until its operationalization. It is composed of the new Department’s Secretary together with officials from the offices and departments of Foreign Affairs, Labor, Maritime, and Social Welfare.

The law was created given the mandate of the State: to protect the rights and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families; to make overseas employment a choice, not a necessity; to strengthen the domestic labor market for the effective reintegration of OFWs; and to progressively align programs and policies towards the fulfillment of the 23 Objectives of the GCM. This new Department shall cover all matters relating to OFWs, including prospective overseas workers in the Philippines and overseas workers who have returned and reintegrated back to the country.

The general functions of the DMW are: to protect the rights and promote the welfare of OFWs, regardless of status and of the means of entry into the country of destination; to formulate, plan, coordinate, promote, administer, and implement policies in relation to the overseas employment and reintegration; to undertake systems for regulating, managing, and monitoring the overseas employment and reintegration; and to empower and train them to gain appropriate skills and by ensuring access to continuous training and knowledge development.


Main Implementing Organization(s)

Government of the Philippines

Detailed Information

Department of Migrant Workers' Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor, Department of Maritime, Department of Social Welfare

Partner/Donor Organizations

Senate of the Philippines
Philippine House of Representatives

Benefit and Impact

The law has made the Philippines the first country in the world to include in its law the progressive realization of the 23 Objectives of the GCM. While the GCM is a non-binding framework, the GCM will now be legally enforced in the Philippines through this law. This is consistent with the country’s pursuit of fair and ethical recruitment, decent work, labor mobility, and human rights for migrant workers. The DMW Act reflects the protection of women migrant workers, and abandoned or neglected children, apart from including provisions in engaging partnerships with civil society organizations and other government agencies in the Philippines.

As the law likewise defines ethical recruitment that enhances the protection of Filipino migrant workers, it complements the country’s campaign to reform the Kafala system, which has been the battle cry for migrant protection. The Philippines, as a country of origin, has been actively partnering with progressive countries of destination in the Middle East.

Thus, the DMW is created to specifically address the issues and concerns of Filipino migrant workers. It can serve as a single destination for OFWs in checking available overseas jobs, processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates, legal assistance for cases, repatriation, reintegration, and other necessary assistance.

It merges seven (7) existing offices with migration-relation related functions. Current services offered to migrant workers will also be served overseas with the new Migrant Workers Office which aims to be established in Philippine Embassies and Consulates. Thus, the creation of DMW will integrate all services offered by the merged agencies and provide cohesion to existing policies in pre-deployment, deployment, and reintegration. Important programs such as reintegration and training would also be given more attention.

In addition, there will now be a greater voice and representation of OFWs in the government – at the Cabinet level with a designated Secretary, and with presence at the local and provincial level.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

Existing migrant-serving agencies have a lodged fund to directly serve overseas Filipinos in distress abroad. With the creation of the DMW, a similar funding mechanism called the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan (AKSYON) Fund is established to provide legal and other forms of assistance to OFWs. Maintaining this setup for similar Departments positively contributes in the immediate assistance that can be provided to migrant workers.

Moreover, the Department of Foreign Affairs manages the OFW Help Facebook page, which is its direct line to Filipino migrants especially with the current travel and mobility restrictions when overseas Filipinos cannot go physically to the Embassies or Consulates. The page provides 24/7 assistance to distressed overseas Filipinos, particularly undocumented or irregular workers, and their next-of-kins by receiving their messages and referring their cases to the Philippine Embassy or Consulate near them. A department for migrants such as the DMW may have a similar online platform where it can be reached by clients from all over the world.


The law will improve the Philippine’s migration governance with the merger of existing agencies with migration-related functions. The new Department will create cohesive policies on migration and will streamline important services to migrant workers. In the long run, assistance accorded to migrants will be further improved and simplified.

Additional Resources

Date submitted:

18 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).