Who gets left behind? Understanding the impacts of the Philippines ‘Supermaid’ policies on Filipino migrants and their families

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Saudi Digital Library
In 2006 the Philippines launched its Supermaid training program following a mass return of Filipinos repatriated due to the war in Lebanon. The program was designed to equip Filipinos, particularly Filipina women, with skills that were deemed to make them more appealing in the global domestic work market. The Philippines government has made it official policy to encourage, even market through its own institutions, international migration to ease unemployment pressures caused by the IMF loans and the Structural Adjustments Programs and to increase the amount of foreign currency coming in through remittances since its implementation of the 1974 Labour Codes. The Philippines has over 1.83 million Filipinos abroad in countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates who send back almost 9% of the nation’s GDP back in remittances. The literature on the intended benefits of these policies including the improvement in unemployment rates due to lower labor supplies, remittances leading to growth in the economy, alleviating poverty, improving standards of living, increasing expenditure on human capital, and leading to development projects has questioned the actuality of these benefits. On the other hand, the Filipina abroad is crunched in between her productive roles in improving the nation's economy, her community’s infrastructure, and her family’s situation and between her socially productive roles often in underpaid, precarious, and harsh conditions. The Philippines state should consider policy improvements to ensure that remittances are capitalised on, and benefits realised, but also to ensure that they do not exacerbate local inequalities. Most importantly and taking a more expansive view of border thinking, Philippines state should create an environment where migrant workers are able to collectively organise, collectively participate in the decision-making process, and expand the political responsibility for ensuring that Filipino wellbeing and interests are well represented, and their rights protected on a global stage.
Policy, Remittances, Domestic Workers, Social Reproduction