Lawmakers seek entry of more nurses in Japan
By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star)
24 May 2011
MANILA, Philippines - The House committee on economic affairs endorsed yesterday a resolution seeking the renegotiation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to allow the entry of more Filipino nurses in Japan.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who authored Resolution 828, said Japan had promised to recruit an initial 1,000 nurses when JPEPA was signed on Sept. 9, 2006.
Five years after the promise was made, only two nurses - Ever Lalin and Ma. Luisa Anis - have so far passed the nursing licensure examination in Japan, hurdled other requirements and have been recruited, he said.
He said 240 other nurses have been qualified only as “nursing trainees or nursing assistants,” while 229 more have been accepted as caregivers.
“The stringent requirements before Filipino health professionals can be accepted in Japan should be renegotiated to realize one of the main objectives of JPEPA, which is to liberalize the flow of goods and services between the two countries,” he stressed.
He pointed out that the committee vote is timely since the agreement itself calls for its review five years after its implementation.
“If they accede to our demand, we can move for the abrogation of JPEPA,” Evardone said.
He said with the country having a huge surplus of nurses, it should ask Japan to fulfill its end of the agreement.
The Philippine Nursing Association has reported that there are about 287,000 licensed nurses who are unemployed.
Health and education officials are discouraging students entering college from taking up nursing.
The surplus has been caused partly by a shrinking global market. The United States and European nations have slowed down in the recruitment of Filipino nurses.
Aside from its failure to employ at least 1,000 nurses, Japan, according to Filipino exporters, has also not complied with other terms of the economic partnership agreement.
The Philippine Exporters Confederation told the House economic affairs committee that Japan has not reduced tariffs on 651 products and has not addressed “trade-distorting subsidies” to create a more level playing field for exporters.
Evardone said these issues should likewise be tackled in the renegotiation that the economic affairs committee is calling for.
“We should also look at the provision allowing the dumping of toxic and hazardous wastes here in the wake of the radiation leak at the Fukushima power plant near Tokyo,” he said.