Thursday, 14 June 2012
CFO, PHILHEALTH, PAG-IBIG, SSS, and BATIS Conduct Financial Literacy Roadshow in Japan
The team with Consul Jerome Castro (center) and Vice Consul Dominic Imperial (leftmost) of PCG Osaka
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas, in partnership with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Pag-IBIG Fund, Social Security System, and Batis Center for Women, conducted for the first time, financial literacy trainings and roundtable discussions on the conditions of Filipinos in Japan from May 25-June 3, 2012. The team was composed of Ivy Miravalles and Frencel Tingga of CFO, Rey Sulit and Gary Gaffud of PhilHealth, Severa Buquid of Pag-IBIG, Atty. Sylvette Sybico of SSS, and Andrea Anolin and Lala Javier of Batis.
Financial Literacy Trainings
Despite the increasing trend in the annual remittances sent by overseas Filipinos which has reached US$20.11 billion in 2011, several studies reveal that one of their main problems is financial mismanagement. A major portion of these remittances (US$913.54 million) came from Japan, where there are almost 300,000 Filipinos. There are also anecdotal accounts of overseas Filipinos' dependents spending remittances indiscriminately, without saving for the future, acquiring properties or investing wisely. Recognizing these problems, and in line with President Aquino's social contract with the Filipino people with regard to the country's migration and development agenda, a pool of financial literacy trainors from CFO was formed thru the initiative of Secretary Imelda Nicolas to conduct financial literacy training for Filipino migrants and their families left behind in the Philippines. The training will form part of the CFO pre-departure orientation seminar and its nationwide annual community education program on migration.
The team conducted a one-day financial literacy training in areas where there are large concentration of Filipinos in Japan – Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. During the training, the participants were informed of the importance of financial planning, budgeting, saving, and investing. They were also taught how to compute budget cash flow and their net worth, and where they could invest their hard-earned money – human resources capital investment, physical capital investments, investment in business ventures, and financial investments.
They were also offered the services of PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG and SSS, where most of them expressed to re-enroll or become voluntary members. PhilHealth offers health/ medical benefits (in-patient coverage, out-patient coverage, and special benefit packages) for their members; Pag-IBIG offers housing loan, short term loan (multi-purpose and calamity loans) and provident savings; and SSS offers social security protection (pension) to workers and their beneficiaries, and the SSS Flexi-fund, a voluntary provident fund for OFs.
|Financial Literacy Training in Kyoto||Financial Literacy Training in Kyoto|
|Financial Literacy Training in Osaka||Financial Literacy Training in Osaka|
|Financial Literacy Training in Tokyo||Financial Literacy Training in Tokyo|
Roundtable Discussion on the Conditions of Filipino Migrants in Japan
Aside from the financial literacy trainings, roundtable discussions on the conditions of Filipino migrants were also held in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Mie, and Shizuoka. Aside from CFO and Batis, resource persons were invited from the International Organization for Migration, Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center, Shizuoka University, and Nagoya Gakuin University. During the RTDs, participants were informed of the different government and NGO programs and services for migrants. Different issues on the condition of Filipino spouses, Nikkei-jins (descendants of Japanese) and Shin Nikkei-jins (Filipino-Japanese children) were also discussed which include among others, human trafficking, domestic violence, working conditions, syndicates victimizing Nikkei-jins and Shin Nikkei-jins, and the implementation of the new immigration law in Japan.
|RTD in Osaka||RTD in Kyoto|
|RTD in Nagoya||RTD in Mie|
|RTD in Shizuoka||RTD in Tokyo|
Consultation with the Philippine Embassy and Consulate officials
The team also paid a courtesy visit and held dialogue with the officials of the Philippine Embassy and Consulate on issues affecting Filipino migrants in Japan – consular services for Filipino migrants, handling and referral of ATN cases, information dissemination of the new immigration law, networking of various Filipino organizations in Japan, and replication of financial literacy trainings, among others.
|The team with Consul General Joyce Ignacio (third from left) of PE Tokyo||The team with Consul Jerome Castro (center) and Vice Consul Dominic Imperial (leftmost) of PCG Osaka|
Filipino Community Visits
To know the living and working conditions of migrants in Japan, the team also visited Filipino communities and the centers and factories where Filipinos work in Shizuoka and Higashi Osaka areas.
|A Filipina helper working in a Home for the Aged in Higashi-Osaka||Filipino community in Shizuoka|
|Filipino community in Higashi Osaka||ACT Corporation in Shizuoka employing Filipino workers|
Highlights, Issues, and Recommendations
- Financial Literacy training served as an eye opener for most migrants who send monthly remittances to the Philippines to effectively manage their finances. Most participants committed after the training that they would either open a savings account or invest some of their extra savings. They were also appreciative that PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG and SSS offered them social security, welfare and health services that they would really need once they return to the Philippines. Some community leaders promised that they would cascade the information to their fellow members who weren't able to attend the training. The Philippine Embassy official also assured the team that they would play the AVPs on financial literacy in the premises of the Embassy.
- Some of the problems experienced by Filipino migrants in Japan include language barrier (speaking Nihongo and writing in Kanji), homesickness, cultural shock, climate (especially during winter), lower salary compensation for trainees and for workers compared to their Japanese counterparts, cultural differences experienced by Filipinas married to Japanese nationals which often result to abuse or divorce, and the hardships experienced by Filipinas in changing their status once they get divorce from their Japanese partners since judgments/orders rendered by foreign courts must be passed upon judicially by Philippine court to prove its validity. They also expressed the need for the establishment of a Filipino community center that will provide social, economic and education services and promote and perpetuate Filipino culture and customs in Japan. The team encouraged some Filipino organizations to provide post-arrival orientation seminar for newly-arrived migrants in Japan so they could easily integrate into the Japanese culture.
- According to Article 12 of the Nationality Law and Article 104 of the Koseki Law, a Japanese child who was conceived within marriage, was born outside of Japan and was able to acquire a foreign nationality will lose his/her Japanese nationality if there was no report of the birth made to the Japanese Embassy or a Municipal Hall in Japan within three months since the date of birth. This restrictive law, prompted the Citizens Network for Japanese–Filipino Children to file a petition to the Japan High Court Judge to declare the unconstitutionality of the Article 12 of the Japanese Nationality Law. Those who wish to support and sign this petition may visit http://www.change.org/petitions/japan-high-court-judge-declare-the-article-12-of-the-japan-nationality-law-as-unconstitutional.
- The Japanese government will start a new residency system for foreign nationals on July 9, 2012. The new residency management system aims to enable the Ministry of Justice to more accurately track resident status and manage the residency of foreign nationals residing in Japan for the mid-to long-term with resident status. The system will issue qualifying foreign nationals a resident card, while the current alien registration system will be abolished. Under the new system, revocation of resident status will be applied under the following circumstances: a migrant has obtained special permission to stay by wrongful means; a migrant residing as a spouse with but has failed to engage in activities as a spouse for six months or more without a justifiable reason; a migrant has failed to give notification of his/her place of residence without a justifiable reason or have submitted a false notification. Grounds for deportation of a migrant includes forging or altering a resident card; and have been sentenced to imprisonment with labor or a heavier punishment for submitting false notification or similar act. The team believes that an information drive to be initiated by the Philippine diplomatic posts or Filipino organizations should be conducted to make the migrants aware of the new changes in the immigration law.
- The team also validated the existence of some organizations in the Philippines victimizing Nikkei-jins and Shin Nikkei-jins. While the present condition creates opportunities for Japanese descendants to obtain the benefits of being part Japanese, many groups also saw the potential to earn from these people's lack of familiarity with the procedures on how to migrate to Japan. Some participants were victimized by agencies in the Philippines posing as legitimate organizations or foundations. This problem will be brought to the attention of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to discuss policy measures for the possibility of regulating foundations that are actually posing as brokers in providing employment for Nikkei-jins and Shin Nikkei-jins in Japan.
- With the recent earthquake and tsunami problem, coupled with threat of nuclear explosion in Japan in 2011, which affected thousands of Filipino migrants especially in Sendai and Fukushima prefectures, the Philippine Embassy has conducted disaster preparedness management training for Filipino migrants. A contingency plan in case disaster struck should be disseminated to the Filipino communities, especially with the impending strong earthquake expected to hit Japan (with Tokyo as epicenter) in four years time as predicted by the University of Tokyo.
With the successful and fruitful activities of the team, the CFO was able to establish ties with the Philippine diplomatic posts and network with different Filipino organizations, and other groups in Japan. More than 300 participants who attended all the activities were thankful for this government-led initiative. The CFO also plans to replicate said activities in major destination countries of Filipino migrants, and introduce policy measures that will cater to the welfare and well-being of Filipino migrants in Japan.
Acknowledgement: Consul General Joyce Ignacio (Philippine Embassy); Consul Jerome Castro, Vice Consul Dominic Imperial, and Mr. Fritz Fernandez (Philippine Consulate Osaka); Labor Attache Clifford Paragua (POLO); Mr. Jeff Plantilla; Dr. Ma. Reinaruth Carlos; Mr. Jason Miles; Ms. Rose Padilla; Kyoto Filipino Pag-Asa Community; LandBank of the Philippines Tokyo; PNB Nagoya and Tokyo; I-Remit Tokyo; Filipino community in Higashi Osaka; Maganote Kyoie; and Consul Kenji Endo (Japanese Embassy)}
Contributed by: Mr. Frencel Tingga, PPRD