Philippines and Japan sign FTA Accord
For Arroyo, the future of Filipinos is cheap - Migrante-Japan
8 September 2006
For Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the future of the Filipino people has a very cheap price. So cheap that she has opted to sell it to Japan by further opening up the local economy in exchange for the annual deployment of 400-500 caregivers and nurses to Japan.
This was the reaction of Migrante-Japan to reports that President Arroyo and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will sign a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries on September 9, 2006 on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Helsinki from September 10-11. The Philippines and Japan struck a basic FTA accord in 2004, but negotiations were hampered mainly over quota on the number of health workers that Japan should accept, and how wide an opening will the Philippines allow for Japanese goods and capital to come in.
“400-500 nurses and caregivers each year is too miniscule a price for allowing Japanese business to rake in super profits out of the local economy. Japan is aiming for a more liberalized entry of Japanese business in the Philippines under the guise of a bilateral free-trade agreement. It is particularly interested in the further opening up of the auto and steel sectors. This is what we have to put up in exchange for the promised transfer of personnel. Japan’s stake is obviously much bigger than the projected combined annual income or remittances of these health workers”, remarked Migrante-Japan representative Nestor Puno.
The Migrante-Japan representative also assailed the myth that opening up new markets for overseas Filipino workers, particularly nurses and caregivers, will mean additional dollars for the country, and thus, propel development. “What is being left out in the equation, so to speak, is the long-term effect on the health condition of Filipinos should massive deployment of health practitioners for overseas jobs continue” Puno said.
According to Migrante-Japan, the FTA accord that takes effect next year, will unlikely create opportunities enough to ease the worsening economic problems in the Philippines. “On the contrary, such move by the Arroyo government will only deepen the crisis that will kill local manufacturers and give Filipinos the hardest blow”, Puno further laments.
Migrante-Japan vows to continue its protest against the FTA. It will launch a campaign to educate Filipinos in Japan on the negative effects of the accord and to demand its abrogation.