What is DMW? Department of Migrant Workers

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is the executive department formed by the Philippine government to protect the rights and promote the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and their families. It is the youngest child in the cabinet, created only after former President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10868 and Republic Act No. 11641 (Department of Migrant Workers Act) during the commemoration of the 125th death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Malacañang Palace on December 30, 2021. 

Also Read: OWWA Membership: How do I Become a Member of OWWA?

As an agency, the DMW (Kagawaran ng Manggagawang Mandarayuhan), also referred to as the “Department of OFWs,” was formed to unify, under one department, the services and programs of various offices that are meant to cater to OFWs abroad. It was meant to streamline the service delivery so OFWs won’t have to make numerous trips to different offices to get what they need. In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about this specialized department for migrant Filipino workers, along with its goals, programs, and services in an attempt to clarify what the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is all about.

dmw department of migrant workers

What is DMW?

DMW stands for the Department of Migrant Workers—a special department created by virtue of Executive Order No. 18, Series of 2019, signed by President Rodrigo Roa Republic Act No. 11641 (Department of Migrant Workers Act). It was created to consolidate, assume, and absorb the functions and mandate of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), along with six other offices including the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) of the DFA, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) of the DOLE, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)—which will serve as its attached agency. The new department will also take over some functions of DOLE-MCI. Together, both DMW and DOLE-MCI would work closely with other offices including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and various non-government organizations (NGOs) in providing support for distressed workers abroad.

The history of DMW is short. It started out as a promise made to the OFWs during the 2019 Araw ng Pasasalamat for OFWs (Thanksgiving day for the Overseas Filipino Workers). Later on, some representatives authored a couple of house bills pushing for the creation of a Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment. The bills went through several constitutional amendments before they were eventually consolidated and approved as Senate Bill No. 2234, resulting in the creation of the DMW. 

Formation and Organizational Structure of the DMW

The law that mandated the creation of the DMW has put in place a few conditions related to the creation of the department. Such conditions include:

  • Having a budget for 2023
  • An IRR 
  • A staffing pattern
  • The political will of the next president 
  • The value placed by the next administration on migration and OFWs

The new department will be comprised of the following divisions: 

  • Administration and Finance
  • Planning and Coordination
  • Legal Affairs and Special Concerns
  • Migrant Welfare Concerns/Welfare Assistance Division/Office
  • Investigation and Enforcement
  • Public Assistance and Services. 

As far as management goes, the DMW will be staffed as follows:

  • Headed by a Secretary appointed by the President for a term lasting no longer than three (3) years
  • Two (2) Undersecretaries
  • Assistant Secretary for the following Departments:
    • Legal Affairs and Special Concerns
    • Migrant Welfare Concerns
    • Welfare Assistance Division Office
  • Each division will have a Division Manager supported by a Deputy Division Manager 
  • One (1) Chief Administrative Officer or Deputy Administrator
  • Four (4) Deputy Managers
  • Five (5) Managers
  • Twenty-one (21) Supervisors
  • Thirty-nine (39) Senior Officers
  • Ninety-four (94) Officers I
  • Fifty-five (55) Officers II 
  • One hundred fifty-five (155) Support Staff

Note: A Joint Management Committee (JMC) will be tasked to address matters regarding the management and operations of the affected agencies, as well as the financial management, governance, and compliance responsibilities in the disbursement of funds of the new department.

Functions and Responsibilities of the DMW Office

The fully staffed Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) office was created to take on the following roles and serve the following functions and responsibilities: 

  • To formulate solutions, plan, coordinate, administer, promote, and implement policies related to the welfare of OFWs.
  • To undertake regulatory, management, and monitoring systems for OFWs.
  • To encourage the empowerment and protection of OFWs by offering training programs to provide continual training and knowledge growth.
  • To combine all relevant government entities into a single location to make it easier for migrant workers to get documentation and seek assistance from the government. 
  • To have a single department overseeing all programs aimed at preserving the welfare of OFWs.
  • To create a Management Information System  (MIS) that will act as registration for all OFWs. 
  • To establish a 24-hour Emergency Response and Action Center Unit 
  • To set up a media and social media monitoring center to respond to OFWs’ emergency needs.
  • To create the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan (AKSYON) Fund, which will be used to aid OFWs with legal and other assistance. 
  • To provide assistance to OFWs who are victims of abuse and illegal recruitment, human trafficking, forced labor, and prostitution along with DOLE-MCI.
  • To protects the interests of OFWs and their families in partnership with OWWA, by providing the following forms of support:
    • social security
    • employment support
    • cultural service
    • remittances
    • legal matters assistance 
  • To regulate OFW recruitment process and employment & deployment
  • To take legal actions including investigations and filing cases because of human trafficking illegal recruitment of OFWs.
  • To provide assistance to exploited or abused migrant workers. 
  • To help exploited or abused OFWs by providing support related to:
    • shelter
    • food
    • medical care
    • legal assistance
    • transport assistance after they have been deported from other countries.

On top of its assumed functions and responsibilities, the newly-formed DMW is expected to carry out the following mandates:

  • To closely coordinate with the Bangsamoro Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) regarding the training, protection and regulation of deployment of overseas Bangsamoro workers. 
  • To take over ILAB’s task of ensuring the compliance of the Philippines with its obligations to negotiate treaties and migration-related international organizations and agreements.
  • To handle both DOLE and POEA’s functions except those related to:
    • quasi-judicial functions and issuance of licenses to recruitment and staffing agencies.

Benefits of the Creation of DMW

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) provides vital services secondary to the following benefits to migrant workers and their families. 

  • Counseling and legal services
  • Education and training programs
  • Improved working conditions for migrant workers 
  • Protect employee rights. 
  • Fair treatment and easy access to essential services
  • Consolidated department for document processing for OFWs
  • Improve coordination and efficiency between agencies involved in taking care of OFWs’ needs

DMW Programs and Services

The Department of Migrant Workers provides the following services to Filipino migrant workers:

  • Livelihood programs to help OFWs start their own or expand their existing businesses.
    • Livelihood Programs for OFWs (LPO). 

This is one of the numerous livelihood program offered by the Philippine government to help OFWs start their own businesses or expand their existing businesses in terms of funding, training, and marketing assistance. 

  • Training programs on entrepreneurship, financial management, and other topics for a successful business.

The DMW also offers training programs related to entrepreneurship, financial management, and other topics to help OFWs become less dependent on their families and more skilled and successful in their businesses.  

  • Career counseling services to help OFWs find new and better employment opportunities or transition to a new career successfully.

The DMW also offers counseling related to career, financial management, and entrepreneurship development to OFWs who wish to start their own business upon coming home to the Philippines.

  • Legal assistance services to help OFWs with their employment-related problems, including contract disputes and violations.

The DMW also offer legal assistance services to help OFWs with employment-related problems like contract disputes and violations. It also offers assistance in resolving issues related to recruitment, deployment, repatriation, promotion and protection against abuse, exploitation, harassment, and discrimination.

  • Different welfare services to help OFWs in times of need, as in during medical emergencies or when they end up getting stranded abroad.
    • Financial assistance for families whose OFW breadwinners have died or become disabled abroad. 
    • Emergency funds for OFWs who wish to return home from their host countries due to personal problems or natural disasters in those countries. 
    • The OFWs also get information packets on their rights and responsibilities as migrants. 
    • Legal advice on issues related to employment contracts, salary discrepancies, and other concerns that may arise while working abroad. 
    • The agency also helps OFWs find jobs abroad through its Overseas Employment Services Office (OESO), which is part of its Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). 
  • Online services that makes it easier for OFWs to access the services offered by the department:
    • Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS)
    • DMW e-Registration System
    • DMW OFW Records Online Appointment System
    • Balik-Manggagawa (BM) Processing
    • Direct-Hire Processing
    • DMW Online Helpdesk
    • Online Recruitment Authority Application
  • Other more specific DMW services
    • Assisting in the processing of their documents
    • Monitoring employment conditions
    • Providing counseling and repatriation assistance
    • Investigating complaints of abuse and exploitation
    • The Department of Migrant Workers also works with host governments, employers, and other stakeholders to promote the welfare of Filipino migrant workers.

Important Reminders

Here are a few things worth remembering when it comes to accessing the programs and services offered by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW):

  • There isn’t much difference between POEA and DMW for OFWs at the moment since most of the services offered by POEA are still being implemented by the DMW. 
  • The new law will rename the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) into the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), responsible for overseeing all programs aimed at preserving the welfare of OFWs.
  • The creation of the DMW will serve as a platform where all problems related to overseas employment and protection of the rights and welfare of OFWs are handled.
  • This department will serve as a medium to facilitate the advancement and development of Filipino workers working abroad.
  • The main difference between the former POEA and the new DMW is that the website of POEA is no longer working. You will have to visit the new website: https://dmw.gov.ph.
  • The operating funds of all six agencies shall be sourced from their respective budget allocations in the 2022 national budget.
  • All officials and employees of the affected agencies shall continue with their regular duties and functions on a holdover capacity until the transition is complete.
  • A joint circular empowers the secretaries of both POEA and DOLE to assign or reassign personnel to ensure the continued delivery of services to the public.
  • The DOLE chief will continue chairing the POEA’s Governing Board, and the Board of Trustees of the OWWA and NMP.
  • The POEA e-Registration System has been migrated into the new DMW e-Registration Portal Online.

Video: How Does the Creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Help

In this video posted by the Facebook page of the Office of the Press Secretary, POEA Administrator Atty. Bernard Olalia explains how the newly-launched Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) can help strengthen OFW protection and improve the efficacy of the service delivery of government offices.

Watch it here:


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most common questions and answers related to the newly launched Department of Migrant Workers (DMW):

1. What is DMW?

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is the the government’s first-ever department created by virtue of Executive Order No. 18, Series of 2019 with the goal of consolidating all seven different agencies tasked with protecting the rights and welfare of Filipino workers abroad under a single dedicated department.

2. What is the purpose of the creation of DMW?

The DMW was created to streamline the processes that OFWs have to go through when working on their requirements or seeking assistance or services of any kind from the Philippine government and its related agencies.

3. How does the DMWP relate to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)?

Some may think that the POEA was the old DMW but this can’t be farther from the truth. The POEA and OWWA are separate agencies whose functions served as the backbone of the newly-launched Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). Some of their programs and services were merged and absorbed by the new department as well, but these two agencies will soon be tasked to implement policies and programs developed by the new agency—DMW. For now, however, POEA and DMW are very similar, operating in almost the same way, as the transition of most services previously offered on the POEA website to the new DMW site has just been completed.

4. Prior to the creation of the DMW, what are the existing agencies that implement migrant worker policies and programs in the Philippines?

The Philippine government’s policies and initiatives pertaining to migrant workers are mostly carried out by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), but the following extant agencies also offer policies and services related to migrant workers:

  • Overseas Employees Welfare Administration (OWWA) 

The OWWA serves under the jurisdiction of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which is responsible for managing the recruitment of Filipino workers for employment abroad. 

  • Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 

The DFA is in charge of the recruiting, deployment, and repatriation of foreign employees both into and out of the country.

  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

THE DSWD oversees the social protection services for vulnerable OFWs by providing support when OFWs run into issues while working outside of the country.  

  • Department of Health (DOH)

OFWs also get medical treatment and other support from DOH when they sustained injuries or developed illnesses while working abroad.

  • Bureau of Immigration (BI)

The department takes care of implementing policies related to immigration regulations, OFW entry, admission into, stay in, and the departure from the Philippines.

  • Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is in charge of providing recruitment services ensuring that businesses comply with existing labor laws.

5. What will happen to the agencies assigned for OFWs that are currently functioning under different government departments? 

The other agencies’ activities, which are currently under many government departments and handle various OFW concerns, would be consolidated, combined, and transferred into the new department—DMW.

6. How does the DMW coordinate with other government agencies?

The main objective of launching the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) was to centralize and coordinate the various programs available to OFWs. By consolidating them under a single department, there won’t be any more need for lengthy coordination with other departments even as it seeks to improve the accessibility, efficacy, and efficiency of the services provided to OFWs. 

Any other cooperation required from other government agencies will be done as DMW oversees the establishment of policies regarding migrant workers and the regulation of recruitment agencies and deployment agencies. The new DMW will also create a comprehensive database of workers who have been transferred to a foreign country or who have returned home after working overseas so the authorities can easily locate absent personnel and keep tabs on individuals who have left the country.

7. Why did the government set up an OFW Department?

The creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) meant the creation of a single platform where all OFW problems can be addressed and resolved. From enabling immediate help from any government office when OFWs encounter problems about their employment abroad to getting all their concerns all taken cared of immediately through a 24/7 dedicated department, the DMW offers a specialized service delivery platform that all OFWs can benefit from. Plus, not only will the department resolve all problems  pertaining to the protection on the rights and welfare of OFWs can easily be resolved without delay, but it will also help facilitate the advancement and development of Filipino workers working abroad efficiently. The creation of DMW will also ensure that OFWs are treated fairly and that they get the opportunities to voice out legitimate concerns or issues in exchange for the sacrifices they are making for their families back home.


The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is a relatively new department created by the Philippine government in an effort to address issues regarding the difficulty of getting OFW concerns addressed. It was signed into existence in 2021, effectively consolidating all OFW-related functions from seven (7) different Philippine agencies into one single department. The department not only streamlined all OFW-related processes by keeping everything in one place, it also made it easier for the government to deliver their programs and services directed to OFWs since all OFW records will be available in only one place. Plus, it would be easier for the government to come up with an array of services, programs and resources that cater specifically to migrant workers’ needs. Not only that, having one single department will make it clear for OFWs where to seek refuge in case they fall victim to employer abuse and maltreatment, exploitation, or even illegal recruitment practices.

Such ease is a welcome change or development for the country’s Modern-Day Heroes who have long been in dire need of a government agency that could address their concerns and provide them with their much-needed support specific to their needs as migrant workers. It will also pave way for better opportunities for the development and advancement of Filipino workers especially those working to serve their families better while living in distant and unfamiliar lands abroad.

Contact Information

Department of Migrant Workers (DMW)

Office Address: Blas F. Ople Building, Ortigas Ave., Cor. EDSA Ave., Mandaluyong City

Telephone Number: 8-722-11-44 / 8-722-11-55

One Repatriation Center (Hotline): 1348

Email Address: connect@dmw.gov.ph (General Inquiry); repat@dmw.gov.ph (Request for Assistance/Repatriation),  assistance@dmw.gov.ph; feedback@dmw.gov.ph (Feedback and Suggestions)

Website: www.dmw.gov.ph/

Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dmw.gov.ph

Official Twitter Page: @DMWPHL

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