Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nurse group bats for JPEPA review

THE GOVERNMENT should review provisions of the Japan-Philippines
Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) with the aim of relaxing
recruitment standards and strictly implementing pay guidelines for
Filipino nurses in Japan, the Philippine Nursing Association (PNA)

"We are advocating to the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE),
as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look into the
conditions or the plight of our Filipino nurses who are there in Japan
in line with the JPEPA," Maristela P. Abenojar, PNA executive
director, said in an interview last Thursday.

She said provisions in the agreement are stringent such that only one
Filipino -- Ever Lain from Abra province -- has managed to obtain a
license to practice in Japan out of 138 nurses sent under the

Under JPEPA, Filipino nurses who want to work in Japan will undergo
Japanese language training six months prior to taking the nursing
licensure exam, which is written in Nihongo.

Examinees are given three years or three chances to pass the test. If
they fail, they must return to the Philippines.

Ms. Abenojar said that no other foreigner nurse has passed the exams
besides Ms. Lain and two other Indonesians since February.

"The Nihongo language lessons they have undertaken in the six months
is main conversational language. It will not really help them pass the
board exams," she said in an interview.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told Filipino and Indonesian
officials in January that the Japanese government will look into the
language issue in the board exams.

However, Ms. Abenojar said they have not seen action on this statement.

Officials from the DFA, POEA and DoLE could not be immediately reached
for comment.


Meanwhile, the PNA also called on the government to take action
against violations on salaries and working conditions of Filipinos in
Japan who are waiting to take the tests.

JPEPA provides that Filipinos could work as nursing assistants in
hospitals while studying and waiting for the licensure exams.

"In the contract that they have signed, a nursing assistant must
receive ¥900 per hour. However, many of them get only ¥650-¥700.
Compare this with Japanese nursing assistants, who are just high
school graduates, who get ¥2,500 per hour," Ms. Abenojar claimed.

Other employers also neglect provisions for proper housing, she added.

JPEPA, signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009, is an
economic agreement between Manila and Tokyo that includes movement of
nationals such as workers.


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