Press Release
December 1, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed apprehension that the promise of highly-paid jobs for Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japanese hospitals and other health institutions may turn out to be an illusion in view of the stringent requirements for the hiring of such foreign medical professionals and the vigorous objection to their entry by the Japanese Nursing Association. (JNA).

In exchange for the liberalized entry of Japanese goods into the Philippines, including industrial waste, under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Tokyo has allowed Japanese hospitals to recruit Filipino nurses and caregivers but not more than 400 during the initial year of implementation of the accord.

Pimentel said the strict requirements imposed by Japan are bound to discourage Filipino health workers, who have the option to apply for jobs in other countries where they have better chances of being hired.

I understand the rationale for our nurses to undergo formal training in Nippongo, but we find the other requirements exclusivistic, he said.

Worse, Pimentel said Japanese nursing professionals have vowed to block the influx of Filipino nurses and caregivers for fear that this may cause a downgrading of employment standards, including a lowering of compensation.

That seems to be the core of the problem of JPEPA. We are getting less than what we bargained for, the minority leader said.

We are supposedly promised that a certain number of nurses and caregivers could go to Japan under the agreement. But now it looks like we wont get anything but garbage.

Pimentel said its obvious that Japanese nurses fear that the entry of their Filipino counterparts may create certain disadvantages for them, including stiffer competition for available nursing positions.

He noted that even the Philippine Nursing Association (PNA) is unhappy over the Tokyos tight requirements for Filipino nurses which would make it difficult for them to penetrate the Japanese labor market.

In a position paper on the JPEPA, the PNA voiced fears that Filipino nurses may face a lot of discrimination and are likely to be treated as second-class professionals at best given jobs as nursing assistants. It said Filipino health workers may even end up becoming entertainers or japayukis for lack of better opportunities.

The JPEPA will supposedly allow a year-on-year quota of an unspecified number of Filipino nurses and caregivers who will be employed in Japan. Nurses will be allowed to stay in Japan up to three years, and caregivers, up to four years.

However, Pimentel said that if it turns out that the requirements imposed by Japan are difficult for Filipino health workers to comply with, the treaty sent by Malacañang on Nov. 20 to the Senate may have difficulty getting approved.

The lone senator from Mindanao also questioned why the Arroyo government allowed Japan, under the JPEPA, to export toxic industrial waste in blatant violation of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Pimentel said the governments assurance that the dumping of Japanese toxic waste materials into the Philippines will not be allowed is belied by the text of the JPEPA itself.

Article 29 of the Basic Agreement of JPEPA provides that the following waste products will be granted a preferential tariff rate of zero percent:

Ash and residues containing arsenic and mercury; ash and residues from incineration of municipal waste; waste pharmaceuticals; residual products of the chemical or allied industries; municipal waste including used sanitary napkins and used adult diapers; sewage sludge; clinical waste including used bandages and discarded intravenous syringes; and worn clothings, among other things.

Pimentel said allowing the entry of such toxic waste materials also directly violates Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990.

News Latest News Feed