Economic partnership with Japan will not benefit Filipinos; JPEPA spells intensified human labor export and liberalization of economy

Original Publication Date: 
8 September, 2006

It is contemptible how the Philippine government trades its citizens for export goods that will only push the country to even greater disaster. This is the aim of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to sign with Japan Prime Minitster Junichiro Koizumi today during the Asia Europe Meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

Through the JPEPA, the Philippine government is set to intensify its labor export program in exchange for allowing products of Japanese multinationals to enter the country with reduced tariff and flood the local market with more goods from Japan. JPEPA will ensure a cheaper source of medical workers and caregivers for Japan. Aside from this, it also opens up more discriminatory policies for migrant workers in Japan who are required, based on the agreement, to master and speak the local dialect in Japan.

The signing of the said agreement also exposes the inutility of the Arroyo administration to provide decent jobs for its people. The promised one million jobs every year after she started her term during the fraudulent national election in May 2004 has been exposed as nothing more than finding jobs for Filipinos abroad.

Aside from artificially solving chronic unemployment problem in the Philippines, the government will also benefit in this agreement in terms of government fees and other exorbitant charges collected from departing migrant workers. The 500 new migrant workers for Japan would mean an additional USD168,000 worth of fees to be added to the Philippine coffers every year.

This will be another kitty fund for corrupt government officials as well as a possible source of money for Arroyos plan to stay in power. Also, the revenues collected from the migrant workers will help to compensate the loss in trade revenues as a result of massive tariff reductions.

Thus, the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants and its partner grassroots migrant organizations in the region demand that the JPEPA must be abrogated. Instead, the Philippine government must provide more decent jobs for its nationals, stop the implementation of neoliberal globalization policies that impoverish millions of Filipinos and stop prostituting its workforce abroad.