Wednesday, February 16, 2005

NR0216:Protect Pinoys from illegal visa and document trade

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release February 16, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

In the aftermath of new laws, solon calls on Arroyo government to protect Filipinos bound for Japan from possible resurgence of illegal visa and other travel documents trade

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration should immediately prepare measures to assist Filipino overseas workers and performing artists in Japan as the said country begins to tighten requirements for entertainment visas. Beltran said that there could well be a resurgence in the trade of illegal visas and other travel documents, as unscrupulous recruiters and travel agencies prey on the desperation of OFWs who want to enter and work in Japan.

According to reports, there are some 80,000 Filipino entertainers in Japan. "Out of desperation, our kababayans might fall victims to the illegal documents trade that is certain to mushroom everywhere as a result of the policy changes. Worse, Filipinos might even resort to more desperate tactics just so they can return to Japan, or enter if they're going there for the first time," he said. Among these moves of desperation, he said, could be to make deals with human trafficking syndicates and even the Japanese Yakuza.

The veteran labor leader said that the Philippine government and its agencies dealing with OFWs such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) pool their resources together and come up with to protect OFWs bound for Japan. He said that these agencies should release reading and other informational materials to guide Filipino planning to work in Japan as OPAs.

"At the least, OFWs should be informed regarding the changes in policy in Japan and what the Philippine government has done about it. All efforts must be done to protect the safety and welfare of Filipinos working abroad, and the first step would be to inform them of what lies in store for them in the country they want to go to," he said.

"Since the Philippine government continues to fail its mandate to provide employment for majority of its constituents, it should at least make sure that OFWs are safe in the host countries. Better yet, the government should scrap its low wages, no-job security employment policies on the homefront and generate sustained and adequate employment for the Filipino people so they won't have to seek jobs abroad," he said.

Beltran echoed the stand of migrant organizations that the Partial Amendment of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act could affect at least 31,000 overstaying Filipinos, 82,000 Filipino entertainers and even thousands of Filipinas married to Japanese nationals. . The new already outlawed theiir continued stay in Japan, effective Dec. 2, 2004. In the immediate aftermath of this law, most of the 304,678 Filipinos in Japan may be subjected to the harsh, inhumane penalties and procedures under the law. These include warrantless arrests, jail terms, steep fines and deportation.

Since the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is heavily reliant on the remittances of OFWs to prop its floundering governance, the least it can for OFWs is to protect them from the rights violations in the countries where they a re deployed. While the new Japanese laws aims to immediately decrease the number of "illegal foreign residents" in Japan, in reaction to a purported "deterioration of public security" and rampant human trafficking, they do not address the issue of human trafficking.

"Close analysis of the issue will reveal that the new laws will actually only raise revenues for the Japanese authorities by further penalizing Filipino victims of human trafficking," he lamented. "So far, majority of the complaints and reports of victims of sex abuse and human trafficking have not been resolved, the victims uncompensated, and the perpetrators free to continue to crimes. It's the Arroyo administration's duty to impose comprehensive measures to protect the democratic rights and welfare of Filipinos in Japan, as well as in other countries," he said.#


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