Monday, August 15, 2005

Solons slam Japanese officials for snubbing hearing on OPAs

Daily TribuneMonday, 08/15/2005

The Japanese government has incurred the ire of lawmakers, government officials and the overseas entertainment industry with its alleged deception of the Filipino artists who were earlier displaced with the adoption of its stringent immigration requirements starting last March.

The legislators, particularly members of the House special committee on overseas workers affairs, also lambasted the Japanese Embassy officials for ignoring an invitation to last Wednesday's congressional hearing looking into the plight of the Filipino artists working in Japan.

The lawmakers, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, were contemplating to declare the Japanese officials as “persona non grata” for conduct unbecoming of diplomats. The group felt slighted and greatly insulted over the foreign official “undiplomatic gesture” on a formal request from a supposed friendly nation, an ally and a co-member of the community of nations.

Eastern Samar's Rep. Marcelino Libanan, who called for the continuation of the inquiry, assailed the “lack of seriousness” on the part of Japan to tackle the current problems plaguing the industry that has adversely affected around 80,000 OPAs and hundreds of thousands of their families. It was the committee's fourth hearing.

The loss of an estimated $8 billion yearly contribution to RP economy through dollar remittance was also noted. He bared they were twice stood up by the Japanese Embassy officials. “Why do they keep on doing this to us? Thirty minutes before the meeting, these embassy people just cancelled their attendance,” a visibly irked Libanan said.

“Japanese officials are great liars. Their constant pronouncement that there is no numerical reduction in OPA deployment is another deceptive tactic. We were merely used as scapegoat to upgrade their category in the US State Department Trafficking in Person Report last year,” Maureen Advincula spokesman for the OPA Koalisyon, lamented, saying Junichiro Koizumi's government succeeded in that effort and is now up at Tier 2 or has made significant efforts to comply with the standard in the campaign against the global problem on human trafficking. “Kami lang ang sinangkalan sa isyu,” Advincula said.

A remark by embassy spokesman Shuhei Ogawa, alleging that 90 percent of Pinoy artists in Japan are involved in the flesh trade “is an affront to the Filipinas' dignity, a humiliating and demeaning tag, and the accuser has to explain for arriving at this conclusion,” Surigao Rep. Prospero Pichay said. #

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