JPEPA’s promise of opening up Japanese borders to Filipino professionals
may not exactly be true and Filipino nurses and health workers
delighted over Malacañang pronouncements may have celebrated too early.
"While it is possible that Japan may have verbally promised the
Philippine government entry of Filipino nurses to address their current
shortage in health workers and caregivers, the Japan Philippine Economic
Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) explicitly states that the Japanese
government is not committed to liberalizing its health service sector,"
bared Congressman Teddy Casiño of the Bayan Muna party.
According to the "Schedule of Commitments" that outlines both country’s
specific commitments to the Agreement, there is no stopping Japan from
enacting laws that may restrict Filipino labor market access to its
health sector, early childhood education, and primary to secondary
education service sectors.
"The Agreement is explicit that Japan is not bound to liberalize labor
access in fields such as care-giving, health services and English
teaching where we Filipinos are generally found to excel," Casiño revealed.
In contrast, the agreement prevents Japan from imposing restrictions or
limitations on highly technical sectors such as the practice of
international law, engineering, computer sciences and technology.
"These are sectors that will be difficult to penetrate owing to the
language barrier and the highly specialized needs of Japanese industry
that is catered by Japan’s advanced educational system," the solon said.
Casiño also revealed that a week after the JPEPA’s Sept. 9 signing, the
Japanese media reported that Japan’s Ministry of Finance already had a
plan to submit to the Japanese Diet amendments to customs-related laws
and ordinances to enable Japan to invoke emergency restrictions on
imports from the Philippines.
"As it turns out, the Philippine’s hopes of equalizing the agreement by
allowing Filipinos access to the Japanese labor force in return for
liberalizing investments and tariffs on Japanese imports stands on shaky
ground," he concluded.
The young solon asked his colleagues to speed up
deliberations on House Resolution 1390 authored by the progressive party
list bloc. The resolution seeks to investigate in detail all issues
surrounding the shady agreement.