TAÑADA DISAPPOINTED WITH THE SENATE JPEPA VOTE

Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Globalization, Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III expressed disappointment with the simple concurrence of 16 senators to the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) last night.

“While I salute the four senators that dissented – Senators Aquino, Pimentel, Madrigal and Escudero, it seems that the others turned a blind eye not only on the inherent infirmities of the treaty but all the utter uselessness of the so-called Exchange of Notes between Foreign Affairs Minister Koumura and DFA Secretary Romulo that was supposed to address the constitutional questions – land ownership, control over resources, right to operate public utilites – on JPEPA. Jobs and industries are on the line,” he said.

During the budget deliberations of the Department of Trade and Industry, Tañada took the floor of the House of Representatives to point out:

One, that the exchange of notes was just a shared understanding between the two parties and is not integral to the treaty;

Two, even if it was made an integral part of JPEPA, paragraph 4 thereof expressly provides that it “does not modify the rights and obligations of the parties under the provisions of JPEPA.” It therefore renders the entire Exchange of Notes inutile.

Three, other countries were able to get better deals from Japan, why were we not able to?

He likewise cautioned that the mere side notes on the toxic issue does not automatically solve the problem as the Philippine Senate has yet to ratify the amendments to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes.

“While the Basel Convention is intended to prevent the entry of toxic waste from Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, it does not exclude export of recyclables so long as the host country allows it.  The amendment to the Basel Convention precisely disallows this. The Senate should have ratified that amendment to close the loophole on the toxic waste issue,” Tañada said.

The congressman raised the strong warning that JPEPA sets the template for all other bilateral agreements that the country will enter with other countries henceforth.

“We could have had a much better template. JPEPA is WTO plus. It includes issues like government procurement, export competition and investments which were roundly rejected by developing countries in the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle in 2000. Let us therefore expect greater liberalization of our economy at a time when were are deeply in crisis,” he warned.

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