May 11, 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez , Chairperson
Migrant group warns presidentiables on OFWs’ plight
Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, cautioned presidential aspirants on supporting policies that might exacerbate the predicaments of OFWs abroad.
The group claimed that in the past elections, OFW issues have been one of the main considerations of voters in picking their candidates. They named two presidential hopefuls whose campaign might be affected by issues concerning OFWs.
“We believe that the recent deployment of JPEPA nurses could hound Senator Roxas’ presidential bid. Indonesia sent their nurses to Japan under the same arrangement a year ago and complaints from Indonesian migrants are already mounting. Even the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) has stated that the said agreement with Japan would lower the labor standard for our professional nurses abroad,” stated Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.
Senator Mar Roxas was the main sponsor of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement which was ratified by the Senate in October last year. Included in the agreement was the hiring of nurses and caregivers of Japanese hospitals from the Philippines .
“In the said agreement, a high school graduate sumo wrestler has a better chance to be hired as a nurse in Japan as compared to a topnotch, practicing, professional Filipino nurse,” warned Martinez .
Martinez explains that the Japanese sumo wrestler needs only to pass the 4 year nursing course. While under JPEPA, Filipino professional nurses are required to undergo Nihonggo lessons for six months. Only after passing the language course can they be hired as a nursing aide for three years while preparing to pass the Japanese government’s exam for nursing.
“And even if they pass these exams they will still have to receive a salary which is lower than their local counterpart. Because of JPEPA, this unjust process may now be used as a template by other countries that hires health professionals from the Philippines ,” Martinez added.
Noli should be held liable
Migrante likewise chided Vice-President Noli de Castro, another presidential hopeful, with the recent return of distressed OFWs from Lebanon . Upon their arrival in the airport, the 57 OFWs, mostly domestic helpers, complained that they have suffered sexual and physical abuse, non-payment of salaries and other forms of maltreatment.
“VP de Castro was the first one who sanctioned the lifting of the deployment ban in Lebanon even with the absence of a thorough investigation of previous abuses against OFWs in the said country,” exclaimed Martinez .
The deployment ban in Lebanon was imposed in 2006 due to the security threat posed by the attacks of Israeli forces in the southern part of Lebanon . In February of this year, VP de Castro and DFA officials endorsed the lifting of the ban claiming that the said country is already safe for deploying OFWs.
“As Presidential Adviser for OFWs, VP de Castro is liable for the ill effects being brought about by the lifting of the deployment ban to OFWs in Lebanon . It is incumbent upon VP de Castro to take the safety of OFWs as his prime concern rather than the opening of additional labor markets abroad even at the expense of their rights and welfare,” Martinez added.
The group announced that they will closely monitor the stance of aspiring candidates’ on OFW protection as the 2010 election comes to near. They claim that they will actively campaign against any candidate who supports the intensification of labor exportation that is being done by the present administration. ####