The Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines (OPAP) was formed on March 17, 1977.

It started as an informal group, with a mission of resisting the move of government then to phase out the “private fee-charging” employment agencies, as contained in a provision in the Labor Code that was enacted in 1974.

This provision-“private fee-charging employment agencies would be phased out within four years within the Code’s affectivity” or in 1978-was viewed as a problem by the agencies and they lobbied hard and mounted a public relations campaign to repeal the plan.

The group’s initial effort paid off when the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) took a second-look and reconsidered the planned phase out.

On June 7, 1978, the late President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1412 which paved the way for wider participation of the licensed private fee-charging agencies in the recruitment and placement of Filipino workers for local and overseas jobs.

Section 1 of Presidential Decree 1412 reads, thus: “In order to harness and maximize the use of private sector resources and initiatives in the development and implementation of a comprehensive employment program, the private sector shall participate in the recruitment and placement of workers, locally and overseas, under such guidelines as may be issued by the Department of Labor and Employment”.

It was major victory at that time for the newly-formed OPAP, a formal non-stock, non-profit organization duly registered at the Securities and Exchange Corporation in 1977.

Among its founding officers were:



Emilio C. Bonoan

Foreign Manpower Services

Carlos Diaz

Arjie Placement Services, Inc.

Caroline R. Rogge

Northwest Placement, Inc.

Manuela S. Catan

M.S Catan Placement Agency

Adorracion Sangle-Bernabe

Sangle-Bernabe Enterprises

Erlinda Cruz

Findstaff Placement Sevices

Alejandro Aquilon

Manila Int’l.  Placement Bureau

Dominador Batenga

Orient Express Plcmt. Philippines

Villafranca Arcilla

Anglo-European Services

Jose K. Villanueva

Oriental Placement Center

Mali M. Balbin  

Aries Prom.  & Employment Agency

Eleuterio Gardiner

Eligarde Enterprises


Nursing its early gains and with sights focused towards its objectives, the OPAP grew steadily over the years. From the initial 19 members, it now has 457, easily making it the country’s biggest group of licensed recruitment and placement agencies

During the last two decades, the OPAP espoused the development of the overseas employment program as one of the tools for economic growth. It has harnessed the spirit of its pioneers, and strengthened and sustained this by the global outlook of its present members.

The OPAP has a formal, written Code of Ethics. It policies its ranks, and makes service to its members a major thrust, ensuring that no member shall be unjustly aggrieved as long as the member abides by its Code and existing laws, rules, and regulations governing the overseas employment program.

The achievements of the OPAP are numerous. But one that stood out during its early years was the recognition it sought- and gained- for today’s modern-day heroes-the overseas Filipino workers.

Through the leadership of Caroline R. Rogge, a former OPAP President, it succeeded in convincing the government under then President Corazon Aquino to issue Proclamation 91 on March 18, 1987 declaring March 22-28 of that year and every year thereafter as Overseas Filipino Contract Workers’ Week.

In 1999, the OPAP, under President Eduardo T. Mahiya, took the lead in convincing the government of convening a Special Summit on Overseas Employment to address the growing concerns of the overseas manpower recruitment sector. Such a summit was held on August 24 of that year.

The OPAP has waged-and fought-many battles as well. And having been tested in the crucible of times and in meeting hard challenges and difficult tasks, the organization has become forward looking.

Its mission has remained consistent: over the next several years, to double its effort to realize its goals and objectives; to protect and help develop the manpower export program; and enhance the welfare of its member agencies and the workers they deploy.

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