11 March 2009

By All Means Deport The Parents

Noriko Calderon
Several papers reported last week about the call by an international human rights group for the Japanese government to halt the deportation of an illegally staying Filipino couple and allow them to remain in Japan with their 13-year-old daughter.

According to Amnesty International (AI), Tokyo should prioritize Noriko Calderon's need to be with her parents Arlan and Sarah Calderon, who has been given until 9 March 2009 to leave Japan voluntarily or be deported.

Personally, I do not know what is all the fuss about the plight of this particular family considering that there are hundreds Filipinos who are in a much worse predicament in other countries like Lebanon and Afghanistan. First of all, the parents entered Japan illegally and, therefore, must suffer the consequences of their action.

If Noriko is not willing to go back to the Philippines because, as she argued, she cannot speak Filipino, then she only has her parents to blame for abandoning the native tongue and for selfishly staying despite the high risk of being caught.

Japan Times reported that Noriko told a Japanese official that, "I was born in Japan. I have friends in Japan and have a dream for the future. I want to be allowed to continue studying." Somebody should tell this girl that the Japanese government is already allowing her to stay, so stop all those whining. Blame your parents for putting your family in that predicament. You can even file a case for what they made you go through.

The family received a deportation order which the Supreme Court upheld in September 2008. Seven months is a long time to prepare a 13-year old child for a life in the Philippines. What were they doing all those times? Most probably they are busy denouncing that they are Filipinos.

Instead of doing the hard work in preparation for the deportation proceedings, the Calderon couple took their time and instead tried to rally public sympathy to their self-serving cause. Since they have their own selfish motives for staying and enjoying the perks in Japan, they are exhausting all possible means to pressure the justice and immigration officials to give in to their demands and did not prepare their child for a life in the Philippines just in case.

Fortunately, Justice Minister Eisuke Mori remained firm and said that, "There will be no change to the measures for their departure."

He also added that the couple will be allowed to return to Japan for short stays to see Noriko. This is in itself already a significant and laudable move by the government to consider the welfare of the child since deported persons usually are not allowed to return to Japan for five years. The couple should already extend their gratitude for this gesture of humanity and not pressed their unreasonable demand further by moderating their greed for a good and easy life in Japan.

Besides, even if her parents are deported, Noriko could easily stay with her Japan-based relatives, particularly with an aunt who has been living in Saitama Prefecture. That is more than what many Filipino children can have whose parents are laboring legally abroad.

Roseann Rife, AI Asia-Pacific deputy program director in a statement said, "Japan must uphold its international obligation by placing the interests of the child as the primary consideration in all actions, and deporting Noriko's parents would clearly be counter to her best interests." In this case, would it be better for AI to just help Noriko have a seamless transition from Japan to the Philippines by enrolling her in a Tagalog class and orienting her about the Filipino culture?

So what if the girl has many Japanese friends she does not want to leave? So what if she needs to go back a year in the Philippines just to fulfill the country's educational requirements? She should be counting her blessings because many Filipino children are having a hard time trying to make ends meet just to finish their basic education. Noriko's parents had more than a decade to earn their keep in Japan enough to give her a private and exclusive education in the Philippines that many girls her age can barely afford.

Hopefully, the Philippine government does not make a big deal out of this and allocate national resources to justify a flimsy excuse for the parents of Noriko to remain in Japan. The parents should even be castigated here for being a malicious and conniving couple who are willing to sneak into a country using questionable documents, stay there illegally and even depriving their child of her true Filipino culture and values.