JPEPA is an assault on the constitution, NGO says

The JPEPA submitted by the executive branch for Senate ratification is an assault on the Constitution, the multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) says.

Furthermore, FairTrade urges the Senate to remand the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) back in the negotiating table.

“The present JPEPA draft virtually amends our Constitution without the charter being subjected to a debate in a Constitutional Convention or to the deliberation of a Congressional Constituent Assembly or to a popular vote via People’s Initiative,” former Senator and lead convenor of FairTrade Wigberto Tañada said in the final hearing of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the JPEPA ratification.

According to FairTrade, JPEPA violates the Constitutional mandate for “reciprocity” in our trade and economic relations. “According to our Constitution, as interpreted by our Supreme Court, a trade arrangement must have a balance of or reciprocity in concessions. However, in JPEPA, we got very little while Japan got everything it set out to achieve,” Tañada said.

“JPEPA gives preferential treatment to Japan by allowing it to have more zero tariff exemptions and a longer time frame to work its zero-tariff implementation. On the other hand, JPEPA gives us zero-tariff treatment to a two-page list of toxic wastes and materials Japan is raring to dump on us.”

“This lack of reciprocity leads to an outright discrimination of Filipinos in some areas of the economy. Japan even openly recognizes that Japanese investors have more rights than their Filipino counterparts,” Tañada cited.

“We need to renegotiate JPEPA and purge it of its anti-Filipino, anti-development and anti-charter features. We, at FairTrade, have no doubt that the Senate, in its wisdom, will not allow the ratification of a one-sided treaty like JPEPA and will act in accordance with the highest interests of our nation,” Tañada added.

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