Villar asks GMA for copy of Japan deal

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The Senate has decided to go straight to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, urging her to transmit a copy of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement so that the senators can decide whether to ratify it or not.

In a letter to Mrs. Arroyo, Senate President Manuel Villar wrote that the Senate wanted to be immediately provided with the official copy of the “dossier,” “considering the urgency of deliberating the [JPEPA] and the eventual decision of the Philippine Senate on whether it will concur or not with the international agreement.”

Villar’s letter came after Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago asked the Palace for a copy of the agreement. Santiago’s committee on foreign affairs vowed to scrutinize the agreement.

Villar’s letter was sent to the office of the President, one week after Santiago gave Ermita a deadline to transmit the referral.

As this developed, Villar asked the President to provide the Senate with an “assessment and detailed information” as to the impact of the JPEPA on the economy, investments, trading, grants given by the Japan government to the Philippines in the form of official development assistance funds and similar financial and poverty alleviation assistance.

For one, Villar said the Filipino caregivers receive less from Japanese employers in terms of average monthly salary than the United States and United Kingdom employers.

Citing a study made by the Senate Economic Planning Office in July, Villar said the caregivers receive the lowest pay from Japan at $1,554 compared to US’ $3,359 and UK’s $2,059. But the pay is much higher than those given by Saudi Arabia at $506 and other Middle East countries at $959, he said.

“Please provide as an assessment on whether Japan would be an attractive market for Filipino caregivers given the stringent Japanese requirements and the existence of other more lucrative markets for nurses such as the United States and United Kingdom,” Villar asked the President.