Friday, October 10, 2008

Health Group Slams Senate Ratification of JPEPA

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760 Email:

Media Release
10 October 2008

The health group Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) is calling on all nurses, doctors, caregivers, and other health personnel to denounce all of the sixteen senators who voted in favor of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

According to HEAD, the senators who ratified the patently onerous trade agreement have placed health personnel everywhere, even those not seeking work in Japan, in a very disadvantageous and vulnerable position.

“Pro-JPEPA senators have institutionalized the commodification of health workers and professionals in a trade deal,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General. “They should be made accountable for this betrayal.”

Through JPEPA, the employment of nurses and caregivers in Japan was bundled with negotiated trade concessions sought by the Arroyo government. Thus, labor standards, job security, migrant and labor rights, benefits and wages, and other protection for Filipino nurses and caregivers have all been compromised in exchange for so-called trade investments.

“Parang ‘Bagsak-presyo’ ng mga nurses (like a rummage sale of nurses),” Dr. Rivera said. “This is the message that the Arroyo government and pro-JPEPA senators is sending to the world.”

In its submitted position paper, HEAD earlier warned the Senate that JPEPA would set a dangerous precedent for its anti-migrant worker provisions, which may be used by other countries who need Filipino health personnel.

In terms of nurses alone, around 85% are working abroad and an estimated 15,000 more leave the country annually. “All of the health personnel working across the globe should make these pro-JPEPA senators feel their wrath by denouncing them in public and in the coming elections.” added Dr. Rivera.

HEAD also reacted strongly to Senator Mar Roxas’ assertion that ratifying JPEPA is both “timely and necessary” to keep the country “globally competitive”.

“If this was a race to the bottom, if this was an auction of Filipino nurses to the lowest bidder, then Sen. Roxas is right. Is this what he wants?” said Dr. Rivera. “Sen. Roxas has shown an utter incapacity to sympathize with the plight of Filipino health workers, especially nurses and caregivers.”

HEAD will join other sectoral groups in a picket at the Japanese Embassy in Roxas Boulevard later today.

“This is labor export policy at its worst. Senators are conniving with the Arroyo government in allowing the unbridled exploitation of Filipino health workers and professionals.” Dr. Rivera concluded, “This policy must end. The struggle against JPEPA will continue until it is thoroughly rejected.”####

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos
Vice-Chairperson, 0916 214 5724

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