Japan and the Philippines signed a free-trade agreement. Its most important feature is the provisions on the movement of labor. Rather than bringing the jobs home, this fake Arroyo administration sees OFWs like myself as export commodity. When I was to leave for Tokyo last June, the immigration officer held me until I produced a POEA permit. I don't usually get an OCW permit because of lack of time and to avoid the hassles of dealing with the bureaucracy. But if I didn't get the permit, I had to pay for travel tax and terminal fees for me and my family. Last June, I had to pay for three people, but still I had to go back to the POEA because the immigration officer wouldn't let me leave, which I could not afford. At the POEA desk, I had to argue with the guy on the desk because he was not very quick in processing my request, my flight was close to boarding and he was not in a hurry at all pausing to listen to his colleagues gossip. After getting my POEA permit, I went back to the desk where I earlier paid for my travel tax then terminal fees if I could get my money back (1,600 + 550 for three people or about 6,500 pesos). They said I can only get my refund from the main POEA office, which I suppose is the one in EDSA corner Ortigas avenue, and which is like saying: good luck dude. We always have to pay dearly for our government's inefficiencies. After going back to the immigration officer with the permit, she had to give me a lecture about the importance of getting the POEA for my own protection from my employer. I told her I work for a very good company, which is a fact. This company has done me more good than any of our government agencies, save the public school system. (I attended a public elementary school.) She insisted that I was making a mistake by not availing myself of the POEA permit, that if in case problems erupt in the country where I work, I will be helped by OWWA because I am registered. BIG DEAL. The war in Lebanon highlighted what kind of help I shall be expecting if and when that actually happens. The OWWA didn't have the funds nor the muscle for such a situation. Our govenrment is so weak and ineffective when dealing with events outside our country, and yet, one of the main push of this government is to continue to commoditize its citizen, to deploy to all corners of the world. If penguins hire househelps and nannies, we'd be in Antarctica.
Our government negotiated the free trade agreement with Tokyo which includes the provision for the deployment of nurses and caregivers. The pact is about free trade. We get electronics, in exchange, the Japanese gets our nurses among other commodities. Fair trade?