While most of us were sleeping, the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was ratified by the Philippine Senate last night. Sixteen Senators voted for its ratification. Only four voted against it.
Borrowing a turn of phrase from the famous speech of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941; the day the Philippine Senate voted in favor of JPEPA would be remembered as “a date which will live in infamy.”
As I have said in my post last year, the JPEPA will set a dangerous precedent. For one, JPEPA in essence proved that imperialist nations such as Japan can still have it their way despite the successive collapses in World Trade Organization (WTO) talks. They can still continue with their unbridled plunder of poor nations’ economies by entering into bilateral trade pacts like the JPEPA.
So expect several JPEPA-like deals forged in the future especially in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis.
Second, JPEPA is the first trade agreement in the world that involved people (our nurses) where they are treated as mere commodities for export, as bargaining chips.
JPEPA proves that Gloria Arroyo is lying when she declared recently that it is not an official policy of her regime to export Filipinos. She even wants Filipino migrants called ‘expatriates’ instead of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), when in fact they are “modern day slaves.” JPEPA basically brought the world back to the age of slave-trade.
It must be noted that negotiations on the JPEPA hit several snags in 2005 mainly because the Philippines sternly opposed Japan’s demand to impose a quota on the deployment of Filipino nurses.
In September that year, then Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz was quoted in newspapers confirming the deadlock. “We are objecting to certain provisions that they want, specifically on the quota. The Japanese government wants to provide us with a yearly quota. We are objecting to that provision. We want [the number of deployment] to be demand-driven,” he said in an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Veronica Uy.
Cruz then went on to add: “We are pursuing every market because we see there is a need… We have a lot of nursing schools. If we don’t seek markets for them, where will they go after they graduate?”
In the end, the Philippines insistence for a non-quota provision in JPEPA’s Movement of Natural Persons prevailed. Philippines can now export as many nurses as it can to Japan, even if the collapse of our health care system is just around the corner. The deadlock and Philippines dogged insistence happened at a time when doctors associations were crying “medical apocalypse.”
Who knows, maybe what made Japan agree to the Philippine government’s demand is the provision that they’d be allowed to dump hospital wastes to our shores.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and fellow opposition Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal should be lauded for standing-up against this “one sided, anti-Filipino treaty.”
Saludo ako sa inyo! Kampai!
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