United Opposition (UNO) vice presidential candidate and Makati Mayor Jojo Binay wants a thorough review of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) following reports that only one Filipino nurse has passed the neighboring country’s national licensure exams.
The nurse is the first successful applicant from the Philippines under JPEPA. Two other nurses from Indonesia, which has a similar agreement with Tokyo, passed the test out of a total of 254 from both countries who took the nursing exams last February.
“Ang pangunahing dahilan kaya pumayag po tayo sa JPEPA ay dahil tatanggapin ang ating mga nurses,” Binay told a radio interview, “Pero nung mabasa ko po sa dyaryo ay wala naman talagang pangangailangan ang Japan para sa mga nurses. Meron silang mga nurses na dapat tanggapin.”
Almost 300 Filipino nurses and caregivers left the Philippines in 2008 and 2009 to train as caregivers in health institutions in Japan, a requirement prior to employment.
JPEPA, which was signed in 2006, is essentially an economic agreement aimed to promote trade and investments between Manila and Tokyo, but the Arroyo administration presented the pact as a milestone to facilitate the entry of 400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers who will take care of Japan’s aging population.
Even the Philippine Nurses Association had opposed JPEPA because the agreement will only expose Filipino nurses to discrimination and shortchange the professional qualification of nurses. The group also feared that Filipino nurses would end providing cheap labor if they failed to meet the stringent language requirement.
“Isa po sa mga bumoto diyan ay si Senator Mar Roxas. Tinutulan po iyan ng oposiyon dahil hindi nga ito pantay ang usapan pero nanaiig na pa rin dahil ang sinasabi nila ay maraming trabahong ibibigay pero sa totoo lang ay wala namang bakante,” Binay explained.
“Tama lang na rebyuhin natin ‘yan . Ang isa sa come on sa atin ay bibigyan ng trabaho ang ating mga nurses pero hindi po mangyayari ‘yan,” he pointed out.
Binay also criticized the onerous terms of the bilateral deal, particularly the provisions that allowed access to Japanese businesses to utilize land and natural resources, among others.
“Bakit kailangang ibigay ang malaking bahagi ng ating lupa samantalang pwede naman tayong mamuhunan sa paggamit nito? Ang paggamit ng natural resources ay ibinukas natin sa mga Hapon na hindi naman dapat dahil tayo mismo ang dapat mag-develop dito,” Binay pointed out.
“Kailangang tingnan natin ang mga kondisyones nito na dapat sana ay napapaboran tayo ng tama,” the UNO vice presidential bet added.#