By PATRICIA MARCELO
MANILA - CONSTRICTIVE labor processing to Japan has displaced Filipino entertainers who, according to their promoters and recruiters, are forced to engage in illegal activities to ensure they can still work in that country.
"Arranged or fixed marriages become rampant now. While they (OPAs) are still in Japan, they are already paying much amount of money to their prospective husband to marry them in the Philippines so that they can go back there to work," said Cristy Gatchialian, president of the Philippine Entertainment Exporters and Promoters Association (Peepa).
Gatchialian and other leaders of the Confederated Association of Licensed Entertainment Agencies (Calea) that groups Peepa, the Philippine Association of Recruitment Agencies Deploying Artists (Parada), and the Reliable Entertainment Promoters Association Inc. (REPA), said more overseas performing artists (OPAs) have entered in arranged marriages with the Japanese or falsified their documents in order to go back to Japan.
Gatchialian, who is also vice president of Calea, added an entertainer who wants to ensure her return to Japan pays as much as 300,000 yen under a payment scheme.
"The problem worsened," said Parada and Calea president Lorenzo Langomez.Gatchialian called the problem "a form of human trafficking".Gatchialian and leaders of promoters and recruiters' organizations spoke a year after the Japanese government tightened immigration policy against foreign entertainers, specifically OPAs. The move, formally began March 15, 2005, was the Japanese government's response to a United States State Department report that tagged Tokyo two years ago as one of the countries where human trafficking was rampant.Washington 's State Department placed Japan in the Tier 2 Watch List of the 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report.The US government said it believes most OPAs in Japan were exploited and ended up in flesh trade.Ironically, according to Gatchialian, this experience that Washington wants to avoid occurs among Filipino women entertainers, a year after the Japanese toed the US line.Now, if we follow provisions of the new law, a Filipino woman "married" to a Japanese "can legally work in Japan," according to Gatchialian."She can sit down with the customers and go out with them without the fear of being penalized if caught," Gatchialian said, adding that the club owner could not be punished. (www.ofwjournalism.net)