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Malacañang urged to review PJEPA

Manila Bulletin

Malacañang urged to review PJEPA

By Edu Lopez

23 May 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Congress has urged Malacañ ang to make a comprehensive review of the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) and focus on investments and exports.

This was the consensus reached by members of the Committee of Economic Affairs of the House of Representatives after listening to executives of agencies monitoring implementation of the first and only bilateral economic treaty the Philippines.

The House committee on economic affairs chaired by Ramon Durano VI called a public hearing on House Resolution No. 828 urging President Aquino to call for a comprehensive review of the treaty in the light of reports that Japan has made Filipina nurses pass through the eye of the needle in getting permanent employment in that country.

Based on testimonies of officials of the Department of Health and the Department of Labor during the public hearing, the lawmakers were informed of the dismal performance of Filipina nurses deployed as health workers.

In three batches in the first three years that the treaty was in place, the Labor Department deployed over 500 licensed nurses that took six months of language training then hired as nursing assistants and then allowed to take the Japanese licensure examinations. In each of the first two batches of board examinees, only one Filipina nurse passed and qualified for permanent employment in Japan with pay scales equal to Japanese nurses.

The language barrier was seen as the biggest obstacle to more deployment of Filipino professionals to Japan under the treaty. ongressman Walden Bello pointed out that Japan is a closed country to immigrants and will always use its language as a barrier to entry of professionals.

The lawmaker-economist pointed out that the issue is common among other trade partners of Japan, not just an issue raised by the Philippines.

Congressman Ben Evardone, author of the resolution seeking for review, suggested that the committee should approve the resolution with special focus on areas where the country has been benefiting most, in exports and investments.

Evardone pointed out parts of the position paper submitted by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) which seeks to bring down market barriers still in place for Philippine goods bound to Japan, particularly the remaining high tariff on 651 tariff lines. PHILEXPORT president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., cited facts and figures showing a substantial surge in Japanese investments to the Philippines in the first year when the economic agreement took effect

but it is premature to come out with definite conclusions on its sustainability after the neighboring trade partner suffered a devastating disaster recently. (EHL)