Critics vow to seek TRO if JPEPA is ratified

By Max V. de Leon
Published on the September 13, 2007 issue of the BusinessMirror

THE Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) said they plan to immediately seek a temporary restraining order and later an injunction from the Supreme Court (SC) should the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is ratified by the Senate.

Rep. Erin Tañada made the announcement in a press conference Wednesday. “If the Senate ratifies the document, then our only recourse is to go to the Supreme Court and ask it to declare certain provisions of the document as unconstitutional.”

At this time, Tañada said the SC will not take cognizance of the issue since the pact is still up for ratification and remains a legislative act.

Tañada said what the civil society and some lawmakers really want is to delete from the JPEPA the unconstitutional portions and those that are sure to affect the country adversely.

FTA convenor Rene Ofreneo said the most glaring provision that violates the Charter is the section that allows Japanese factory ships free access to the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Ofreneo said the Constitution is clear that the marine resources of the country should be exploited only by Filipinos.

The JPEPA can also be questioned for “too much delegation” to the Executive branch of the power to set tariff rates, which is a function of Congress.

Also, the JPEPA will mandate the government to give equal treatment to Filipino and Japanese firms, violating the doctrine of according preferential treatment to local companies.

The agreement is also seen hurting the local fishery, steel, cement, footwear, and garments industries.

Tañada hopes the Senate would junk the JPEPA and have it returned to the negotiating table to cure its defects.

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