Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another Japan-Korea-Philippines connection

The Manila Times reports that South Korea is becoming the new haven for Filipina/o entertainers because Japan has been restricting entry by a change in its immigration rules. That has meant hundreds or thousands of Filipinas and Filipinos, mostly "entertainers," have been heading for South Korea "without proper documentation."

Filipino entertainers, estimated at 3,000 to 4,000, are working in the periphery of the more than fifty US military bases in various places in South Korea, said the new migrant newspaper, the Pinoy Overseas Express, in its most recent issue.

How these workers were able to leave for Korea without proper work contracts was attributed to the flourishing “escorting” racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Their exits were facilitated by unscrupulous immigration personnel for a fee of P15,000 each.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) calls this "human trafficking" and has sought the help of the South Korean Embassy in Manila. The POEA has requested the South Korean Embassy not to issue employment-based visas to Korean-bound Filipina entertainers without presenting the POEA’s exit clearance papers.

According to the Manila Times, under an existing government-to-government arrangement, all workers for South Korea have to be hired directly through the POEA. Before this agreement, the Korean government repatriated thousands of illegal Filipino workers in that country under an amnesty program, with the assurance that they would be given priority to return to their jobs.

So while Japan has been closing itself off to this kind of work (read the link for more details on how and why that is), Korea is still a haven. But since so many are here illegally, that means they can easily fall victim to abuse.

Meanwhile, the Manila Times is worried that the Philippines cannot handle the influx of Filipinas and Filipinos returning from abroad:
It is feared that when Japan implements its threatened massive drive to clear the country of its illegal foreign workers, thousands of overstaying Filipino entertainers may be caught and deported to the Philippines. This is a problem that will hit us between the eyes.

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