Thursday, January 27, 2011

Preliminary Report of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs (COWA) Fact-finding Mission to Saudi Arabia

By Rep. Walden Bello, COWA Chairman

This document is a brief preliminary report prepared for the meeting of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs on Jan 26. The full report will be available on Feb 9, 2011.

Members of the Mission

Members of the fact-finding mission to Saudi Arabia were Reps. Walden Bello, COWA chair; Carmen Zamora-Apsay; Emmeline Aglipay; and Cresente Paez.

Objectives of the Mission

The objectives of the mission were the following:

a) familiarize the COWA with the conditions facing Filipino OFWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which may be described as the frontline state for the deployment of OFWs, where there have been numerous reports of abuses of Filipino workers, particularly female domestic workers;

b) assess the performance of Philippine government agencies in responding to the needs of OFWs in the country;

c) find out the response of KSA-based OFWs to key recent government initiatives such as mandatory insurance; and

d) investigate the status of Filipinos detained in Saudi jails, particularly those under the death penalty, with a view to securing their release or mitigating their sentences.

Activities of the Mission

The team visited three key cities, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar from January 9 to Jan 13. In all the sites visited, they followed the following program:

- briefing by officials of the Philippine Embassy, Consulate General, and Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO);

- dialogues with distressed female OFWs in shelters operated by the Philipine government (also known as “Filipino Workers’ Resource Centers” or FWRCs);

- visits to areas where OFWs congregate in large numbers in order to interview them at random; and

- mass meetings with the Filipino community.

Efforts were made before the arrival of the mission to secure permission from Saudi authorities to visit Filipinos in detention in the three cities but this was not granted. However, members of the team met with a key Saudi official handling one of the high-profile death penalty cases.

Findings of the Mission

What were the key findings of the mission?

First of all, the situation of Filipino domestic workers or household service workers is dire, with overwork, maltreatment, and non-payment of wages very common.

Second, rape and sexual abuse are endemic, a condition that members of the team felt was related to the sexual segregation followed in Saudi society, a tradition of treating domestic servants as slaves, and the strict subordination of women to men. The sense of the team is that the causes are not religious in nature but are rooted in social organization.

Third, a great many OFWs are swindled, with them signing contracts with a recruitment agency stipulating at least $400 monthly as pay, only to be confronted with a substitute contract upon leaving the Philippines or upon arrival in Saudi Arabia specifying a significantly lesser amount.

Fourth, there was no enthusiasm for the mandatory insurance stipulated by RA 10022, with some OFWs proposing junking it and others making constructive suggestions for amending the provision.

Filipinos in Detention

As noted earlier, a special concern of the mission was the situation of Filipinos in detention, particularly those on death row. Although the Saudi authorities did not grant the team permission to visit those detained, Rep. Bello and Rep. Paez were able to meet with the head of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Sheik Ahmad Al Othonen, to intercede in behalf of Dondon Celestino Lanuza, who has now spent over ten years in jail for taking the life of a Saudi national that, he claims, tried to sodomize him. From that meeting emerged news of a positive development: the father of the other party is now more open to talking about a settlement whereas he was previously against it. According to the Sharia Law that governs Saudi Arabia, Lanuza can escape the death penalty and be released if he is forgiven by the closest kin of the victim in return for a monetary settlement (blood money or tanazul).

There is no doubt that DFA personnel actively monitor developments in the death row cases and make active representation for the OFWs involved. Saudi lawyers are engaged, Saudi authorities are lobbied, efforts are made to negotiate monetary settlements with the kin of the victims, whether these relatives are located in Saudi Arabia or, in cases where Filipinos are accused of killing other Filipinos, in the Philippines. The pace of the justice system, however, is not within the control of DFA officials, and, as in the case of Lanuza and several others, little progress can be made when relatives are dead-set against a monetary settlement.

While the mission can say that the DFA is actively engaged with death penalty cases, it is less certain about its engagement with the non-death row cases, such as “immorality,” a criminal charge levied on unmarried couples seen in each other’s company. Some OFW’s claim that the DFA focuses its work and financial resources mainly on the death penalty cases.

Crimes against Filipinos

The mission was also concerned with the unresolved deaths of Filipino nationals reported in the press. Some mission members were perturbed that DFA personnel did not seem to be updated on the cases. Developments in eight cases for which information was requested was not immediately available from them, and the information provided on two cases was limited to the cause of death as determined by autopsies of the victims

More energetic follow-up work of reports of murdered Filipinos, including interviews of people who knew them, appears to be in order.

Performance of Philippine Government Officials

A more detailed assessment of Philippine government officials on the ground in Saudi Arabia will be provided in the full report. While there are valid complaints regarding the delivery of services, the chair notes that the interaction with key members of the Embassy, Consulate General, and POLO revealed them to be solid, dedicated professionals, trying their best with the limited resources available to them.

Special mention must be made of the vital but unsung role played by Philippine Overseas Labor Offices. These teams are severely understaffed, yet their rescue teams have liberated scores of Filipinas from oppressive employers who have often locked them up. The rescue missions are sometimes dangerous; in one instance, a team had to rescue a Filipina from a remote tribal area where they were met and threatened with tribesmen bearing rifles. The missions are also often carried out with minimum knowledge of the location of the victims who cannot give clear directions because they are not familiar with the neighborhoods in which they are located. In some cases, high tech electronic assistance to pinpoint the location of the victims by tracing their cell phone signals is provided by Filipinos working in Saudi telecommunications companies.

Preliminary Recommendations

The preliminary recommendations of the chairman of the COWA to the Philippine government are the following:

a) Decertify Saudi Arabia as a country fit to receive domestic workers in accordance with Section 3 of Republic Act 10022, which states that “the Department of Foreign Affairs, through its foreign posts, shall issue a certification to the POEA, specifying therein the pertinent provisions of the receiving country’s labor/social law, or the convention/declaration/resolution or the bilateral agreement/arrangement which protect the rights of migrant workers.”

b) Urgently press the Saudi government to negotiate a bilateral labor agreement with the Philippine government that would secure respect and iron-clad protection for the rights of all classes of Filipino overseas workers. This recommendation of the earlier mission to Saudi Arabia consisting of Reps. Rufus Rodriguez, Luz Ilagan, and Carlos Padilla is one that our mission strongly reiterates.

c) Coordinate with other labor-sending countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India to gain leverage vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia in order to secure respect for overseas workers’ rights.

d) Urge members of Congress to work with LGUs in launching information campaigns to dissuade people from going to Saudi to engage in domestic work and related occupations such as “washers” and “beauticians.”

e) Prosecute recruitment agencies that have a record of deploying domestic workers to households and establishments that maltreat workers.

f) Prosecute recruitment agencies that are party to substitute contracting and similar activities under the Anti-Trafficking Act.

g) Ensure that the budget for Assistance to Nationals and the Legal Assistance Fund is not reduced and, if possible, that increased.

h) Increase efforts to secure the release of death row victims as well as other nationals currently detained in Saudi jails on various charges.

These were the impressions gathered by Rep. Walden Bello, whose team Ellene joined:

Sexual Prey in the Saudi Jungle
By Walden Bello

He was an officer in the Saudi Royal Navy assigned to the strategic Saudi base of Jubail in the Persian Gulf. She was a single mom from Mindanao who saw, like so many others, employment in Saudi Arabia as a route out of poverty. When he picked her up at the Dammam International Airport in June, little did she know she was entering, not a brighter chapter of her life but a chamber of horrors from which she would be liberated only after six long months.

The tale of woe recounted by Lorena (not her real name) was one of several stories of rape and sexual abuse that were shared by domestic workers with members of a fact-finding team of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs (COWA) of the House of Representatives.

more in The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Friday, January 21, 2011


My friend the fearless NGO worker Ellene Sana was afraid in Saudi Arabia. Now that says a lot about the place where women are still not allowed to mingle freely with men, not even with their in-laws. Where they enter houses, restaurants and even public buses through a separate entrance.

Ellene is no ordinary NGO worker either. She once rallied with the East Timorese for their independence, in Indonesia no less. She once danced to Burmese policemen out of boredom when she was being held in Burma’s military detention center. Ellene survived countless nights listening to the most boring congressman drone on before the absentee voting bill was passed. She survived a weeklong stay in Greece with only $10 in her pocket!

But the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was different.

When she signed on with Rep. Walden Bello, head of the Committee on Overseas Worker Affairs (COWA), as consultant for a visit to Saudi Arabia, she had no idea she would see first hand the hardships overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) face in that alien land.

Ellene now understands why Filipina domestic helpers get jailed for just looking at colleagues of the opposite sex while throwing the garbage or walking the dog. She now understands how hard it is for them to cry out for help when they are kept locked up behind high walls and iron gates, with almost no access to the outside world much less to the Philippine embassy or consulate. She especially deplored the fact that if the girl or woman in question is able to get past the high walls and iron gates, she has to deal with taxi drivers who usually turn out to be rapists themselves, or kidnap the woman to keep as a sex slave whose services he sells to others.

Before the start of the COWA’s trip last week, Ellene was far from afraid. After all, many of the community leaders in Saudi Arabia were her friends. Some had even offered to show her around the kingdom and put her up. But then, travel is prohibitive there for women, and not just cost wise. She almost did not get a visa to enter the Kingdom simply because she was not travelling with a spouse or a family member.

As a result, Ellene left several days after the actual delegation. It was a good thing she was fetched by a consular official at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Riyadh not only because of the general discrimination towards women but also because she arrived in the early morning hours.

However, because Ellene was separated from the delegation, she was not present when the Kingdom’s OFWs aired their grievances to the delegation in a meeting at the embassy premises – minus the women of course. A report in a local newspaper said that although the delegation did not make promises, it took note of the grievances relayed by the OFWs.

“We have come to the Kingdom in high spirits. The government is enjoying an 80 percent rating, which means high confidence from the people. There’s a sense that reforms will be achieved and Congress is determined to help in coming up with a new era for Filipinos," Bello said.

Bello said his group would present a report to the Congress on the results of their mission in KSA. “When we get back to the Philippines, we’ll make a frank and unvarnished report," he said. The dialogue revolved around the establishment of workers cooperatives in KSA, bilateral agreements between the Philippines and KSA on labor protection, repatriation of undocumented OFWs, setting up of an OFW hospital, and representation of OFWs in Congress.

Bello’s mission aimed to address the concerns and issues affecting the country’s estimated 1.4 million OFWs. With him were Reps. Cresente Paez (Coop-NATCO Party-List), Emmeline Aglipay (DIWA Party-List), and Maria Apsay (District 1, Compostela Valley Province).

They were all welcomed to the Kingdom by Philippine Charge d’Affaires Ezzedin Tago, key embassy officials, and Filipino community leaders. Tago was temporary head of the embassy because no Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia has yet been named by President Benigno “Pnoy” Aquino III. Those present at the meeting were Third Secretary and Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, Administrative Officer Arimao Cotawato, Labor Attaché Adam Musa and Welfare Officer Cesar Chavez of the POLO-Central Region, Cultural Attaché Rose Malicse and Attaché Sheila Solas.

The delegation left for Jeddah on Tuesday and Alkhobar on Wednesday, after which they returned to the Philippines. Despite being afraid of the repressive environment, Ellene stayed behind and continued to meet with the OFWs there.

Thanks to Ellene for the photo :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Journalists are better writers rather than speakers. No wonder during the wake of Eddie “Ka Edong” del Rosario and the OFW tribute to him last July 7, I said a bare minimum of two sentences. But I wanted to say more, for Ka Edong actually first came into my life during the turn of the century, sometime in late 2000, when I was covering the migrant sector for Arab News in Saudi Arabia.
I remember first trudging the path to his old office in Bohol Avenue – “yung malapit sa ABS-CBN” he told me then – for my first interview with him. It was him who introduced me to Ellene Sana and Noel Esquela and Rob Ceralvo and the other overseas absentee voting advocates. So in essence Ka Edong brought me into the lobby.
My involvement with him made me realize many of the gripes overseas Filipinos had about their motherland, in particular about their lack of voting rights. It was no wonder that from a mere journalist on the beat, I became one of the advocates. I accompanied him and the group through endless courtesy calls to legislators who signed the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill. I listened with them to endless privilege speeches at the House of Representatives and at the Senate.
He was always the joker during those coffee sessions among the advocates, the favorite “tambayan” being Starbucks because of the smoking area. He would even eclipse then Sen. Nene Pimentel and sometimes then Rep. Jesli Lapus during dinners and lunches for the Overseas Filipinos.
With Ka Edong I drank endless cups of coffee at Figaro Coffee Shop at the CCP Complex waiting for the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill to come up with a consolidated version for the President’s signature. The bicams were held at the nearby Department of Foreign Affairs and our group would hungrily wait for news from several insiders in the bicams.
Finally, I witnessed the signing of the bill into law in Malacañang on Feb. 13, 2003. Ka Edong was a pivotal member of the International Coalition for Overseas Filipino Voting Rights (ICOFVR) that labored for the bill and saw its passage.
And because of him I was too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Broken families will be a thing of the past with the help of Microsoft’s Tulay program, Lilybeth Doronio, who because of Tulay now communicates with her overseas worker husband five times a day.

Lilybeth has been married more than 20 years and she and her husband, an engineer at a power plant in Vietnam, used to make do with talking to each other thrice a week using his mobile phone.

She can’t believe her savings now because with her knowledge of Skype and Facebook, they are now able to communicate three to five times a day. All these thanks to Microsoft’s Tulay training center where she was able to get free computer literacy courses.

“He would chat with me in the morning before he leaves for work. Then we find the time to chat during his lunch break. At night, we use Skype so we could talk sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.”

She has three children, two boys and a girl but she still hopes to join her husband in Vietnam someday.

Like Lilybeth, another unexpected Tulay almnus is 80 year old Buhay Tan, a great grandmother seven times over.

Buhay has nine children, all of whom are now professionals. Four of them are abroad and badly wanted to be able to communicate with her. Buhay said two of her sons are in Saudi Arabia, and two of her daughters work as nurses, one in London and the other in California.

Tulay’s trainor in Davao, Wadi Mutia, now considers Buhay as a star pupil. He said his student now knows Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and MS Publisher. She is also into social networking tools like Facebook.

For more, read

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A group of Saudi Arabia based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) wrote me an email providing me a copy of a letter to senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asking him to create an oversight committee to supervise the disbursement of the Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (ELSF).

The P1 billion ELSF was proposed by President Gloria Arroyo to provide financial assistance to OFWs who lost their jobs abroad as a result of the global financial crisis. Funds would be sourced from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), she said during her visit to the kingdom last week.

“Since the OWWA fund comes from our $25.00 biennial contributions, which is held in trust by the government, it is both our right and responsibility to ensure the Fund, our fund, is only used for the benefit of our member-owners and our families,” the OFWs said.

Francis Oca, VP, PPP (Partidong Pangdaigdigang Pilipino – Riyadh) said “while we do not question the intention by which the ELSF was created, we want to be sure that adequate safeguards are in place so that this Program does not end up like the Smokey Mountain project.”

Lastly they asked that the fund is used only to assist retrenched OFWs and their families and that measures be put in place to ensure the recovery of the funds disbursed.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Overseas workers in Saudi Arabia are complaining about the inconvenient schedule for the registration of overseas absentee voters there.

Francis Oca, long-time advocate of overseas absentee voting (OAV) said in a letter to Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor that "the announced schedule/timing of the registration is not conducive to attaining the DFA/COMELEC's goal of registering at least a million OFW voters for the 2010 election."

The Philippine embassy earlier announced that registrants would be entertained from 8 am to 4 pm, Saturday till Wednesday. This would mean there would be no registration on Thursday and Friday, the heaviest days during the past two registrations since the weekend in Saudi Arabia falls on these days.

"Parang hindi tama na Saturdays to Wednesdays. Pano naman yung mga 7am to 4pm ang work, ang time lang e Thursday and Friday?" Oca said.

OFW Roberto Pardinas added "oo nga, mahirap masunod ang ganitong schedule kailangan pa lumiban sa trabaho."

The head of the United OFW, Eli Mua said "parang joke-jok lang itong gingawa nila sa OFWs. Those schedules are meant to discredit and downgrade this registration. It is meant to discourage the OFWs from registering; they seem not to help the thousands; just pleasing the few."

"Hindi puwede mag-absent ang OFW at hindi nag-bibigay ng special leave ang mga companya dito. Wala silang paki-alam sa registration natin; ang mga managers na ibang lahi would not give a a minute for our own OAV - Thursday and Friday lang makakarehistro ang 90 % sa mga OFWs. Magagalit naman tayo dito kung ganyan naman na walang walang considerasyon sa atin," Mua said.

Returnees still in CLOAV

OFWs have even more complaints about the proposed conduct for absentee voting. There are still a lot of cases in the certified list of overseas absentee voters (CLOAV) of misspelled names and overseas workers who had transferred to other countries.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) hopes to correct this during the registration period, which officially started Feb. 1 and will last for seven months until Aug. 31, 2009. During this period, all overseas Filipinos wanting to cast their ballots in the presidential elections in 2010 can sign up at Philippine embassies and consulates abroad.

Hopefully, the outcome this time will be better because the COMELEC has been through two previous registrations for OAV.

For the initial registration in 2003 (for the May 2004 elections), there were 361,457 registrants compared to 142,665 during the registration in 2006 (for the 2007 polls).

The COMELEC attributed the reduction in registrants to the fact that the 2007 polls were merely mid-term elections. They said the 2004 polls were presidential elections thus generating much more interest.

They overlooked the fact that some of the obstacles already present in 2003 were never corrected.


The Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA-OAVS), formerly lead agency in the implementation of OAV said overseas Filipinos usually fail to comply with registration requirements because of distance (from the nearest embassy or consulate), nature of work, and employer's restrictions.

In many cases, the OAVS said overseas Filipinos are geographically dispersed and work or reside in areas far from the designated registration centers – the embassies and consulates. Unfortunately, the DFA-OAVS said there are only 87 facilities (81 Posts, 3 POLOs and 3 MECOs) which serve as voting centers.

For this reason, the embassies have partnered with employers of large numbers of Filipinos to either bus the employees to a registration site or conduct field registrations.

Community involvement in Saudi Arabia

Nevertheless, the numbers have not been good. Probably why this time around, one group is not taking any chances.

The Partidong Pangdaigdigang Pilipino, whose main aim is to get at least one overseas Filipino worker into congress in 2010, is partnering with the embassy in Riyadh to conduct voter information and education campaigns there. The biggest concentration of OFWs is in Saudi Arabia, which also happens to be the number one destination of OFWs.

Rudy Dianalan, president of the Jeddah chapter of PPP said "we have brainstormed the theme and one of those brought up also involved 3 P's: Pagrehistro, Pagboto, Pagbabago."

He said they plan to revive camp visits, lectures at various work sites since "this
helped generate the bulk of Jeddah's 33,000 registrations and 16,000
voters in 2004." In the 2007 elections where the community had not
been involved, there were only 3,000 additional registrants and just
6,000 votes cast.

Similar campaigns are being waged elsewhere and they all involve community involvement.

Different agenda
Here in Manila, OAV advocates are continuing to push for amendments to the overseas absentee voting bill.

Ellene Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy, said the amendments in question will scrap the affidavit of intent to return which has been required of Filipino immigrants abroad. This has also proven a deterrent to Filipinos overseas, particularly to green card holders in the US who fear that their residency will be affected by executing this affidavit.

This requirement was included in the law to keep the overseas Filipino "connected" to the Philippines.

That's not all, though.

Longer registration period

Sana said her group and other civil society groups as well are lobbying for a longer registration period for overseas absentee voters. They are protesting its drastic cut from ten to seven months. From the original Dec. 1, 2008 to August 31, 2009, the registration period has been shortened from February 1 to August 31, 2009.

"I do not understand why the period for continuing registration of local voters is one year while that for overseas absentee voting is only seven months," Sana complained.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator of Migrante International, earlier said that shortening the duration of the OAV registration to seven months is unreasonable, unjust and unconstitutional.

But Nicodemo Ferrer, COMELEC Commissioner in charge of OAV said the time span is enough. Preparations for the 2009 registration began as early as April 2008 when consultations were held with non-governmental organizations, the DFA-OAVSand the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Ferrer then proposed a "massive information dissemination campaign" for the 2010 elections. Filipinos overseas will be allowed to vote for the president, vice-president, senators and party-list representative.

His fellow commissioner, Rene Sarmiento said a lot of the former registrants will be removed from the voters' lists because the ruling is if an overseas absentee voter fails to cast his ballot for two consecutive elections, he will have to re-enlist. Since the first registration in 2003, many OFWs have transferred residences and/or ended their contracts and have returned to the Philippines.

This year, the COMELEC is expecting at least a million registrants.

Former DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said they are targeting one million absentee voters to register for the coming elections. In preparation for this, COMELEC officials in Manila even visited consular posts abroad to train foreign affairs personnel on the process of registering overseas Filipinos.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After three years, UST journalism professor and migrant advocate Jeremaiah Opiniano and the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI) has managed to come up with the .Philippine Migration and Development Statistical Almanac by monitoring, compiling, and eventually harmonizing statistics on Filipinos’ international migration.

But more than merely a compendium of figures on migrants, my friend Jeremaiah said the Almanac is also a fitting tribute to the hardworking women and men within the government—from both statistical and non-statistical agencies—who have dutifully encoded and compiled raw and processed data surrounding overseas Filipinos.

He said the Migration and Development Statistical Almanac attempts to present data from administrative sources, as well as data from surveys and other selected quantitative studies, on Filipinos’ international migration and development. The data fleshes out the positive and negative consequences surrounding the overseas migration phenomenon to both the Philippines and to the countries where Filipinos go to.

In his introduction on, Jeremaiah said the Almanac does not aim to immediately make sense of the various data it presents but rather presents these datasets, regardless of where the data came from and the variances of such data.

Thus, some interesting facts which can be culled from this Statistical Almanac:
• There are 239 countries identified to have Filipinos. Some 209 of these countries are members of the United Nations, while 30 others are non-members (including islands and territories unfamiliar to many of us). Filipinos go to these countries as temporary migrants (or more renowned as “overseas Filipino workers”), permanent migrants, and undocumented or irregular migrants;
• Temporary migrants from the Philippines, says various datasets, can either have males or females as the leading group by gender based on annual data releases. But the permanent migration (that includes marriage migrants who have married foreign partners) is predominantly female. Filipino seafarers are a visible group in terms of number;
• Regions located in Luzon island —the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, and the Ilocos Region— have consistently emerged as the top origin areas of temporary and permanent overseas migrants, as well as the hubs of many households receiving assistance from abroad;
• Overseas workers have the Middle East and Asia as the leading regions of destination for temporary migrants, whereas North America is the leading region of destination for permanent migrants. The Philippines-Saudi Arabia corridor is the biggest migration corridor for temporary migrants, while the Philippines-United States migration corridor is the biggest for permanent migrants;
• The Philippines, from 1975 to 2007, has received over-US$120 billion in cash remittances —all passing through the formal banking system. And in an initial attempt to estimate remittances plowing into each and every Philippine province, triennial estimates show that families receiving assistance from migrants abroad got PhP208.848 billion in 2000 (covering 1.107 million migrant households), PhP245.856 billion in 2003 (1.31 million households), and PhP348.524 billion in 2006 (1.601 million households);
• Males have more total and average remittances yearly than females; and
• Comparisons between estimated remittances during the year 2003 and the audited gross incomes of provincial governments show that remittances of migrant households are more than the total local government incomes in 55 of 79 provinces.
According to Jeremaiah, this was not solely his work but the work of a core group composed of representatives from the Institute for Migration and Development Issues, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the University of Santo Tomas - Social Research Center (SRC).