The Philippines provides prospective migrant workers with detailed information on the migration and recruitment process, either online or via outreach. Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars are mandatory and workers cannot leave the country without having completed them. Civil society organisations have criticised the involvement of private recruitment agencies in the delivery of these pre-departure seminars, pointing out the conflict of interest - recruitment agents can be held accountable under the principle of joint and several liability, which serves as a clear disincentive for them to provide information to their clients on their rights abroad. Very few of the migrant workers we spoke to could recall the content of their pre-departure seminars in any detail. Philippines officials abroad have argued in favour of post-arrival orientation seminars and of holding these country-specific information dissemination sessions once workers have spent several weeks in the country, rather than immediately upon their arrival. The quasi-governmental body MECO provides post- arrival orientation seminars at their offices in Taiwan and travels to large employers to conduct these on-site. The Philippines has partnered with the ILO to pilot post-arrival orientation seminars in Hong Kong and the ILO has offered training to journalists on recruitment and migration and has published, in conjunction with the Philippines National Union of Journalists, a series of media stories describing the reality of life overseas for Filipino migrant workers. Taiwan provides orientation and information dissemination services to foreign workers on their arrival in Taiwan, and the Workforce Development Agency can also arrange for workers to attend more detailed orientation services, which 150,000 participants attend annually.
Recommendations for the Philippine government:
- Complement pre-departure seminars with post-arrival orientation seminars and hold country-specific information dissemination sessions upon workers’ arrival and semi-regularly thereafter.
- Exclude private employment agencies from any role in the provision of pre-departure and post-arrival orientation seminars.