To reject or renegotiate (the JPEPA)

Here’s another take on the JPEPA debate from Malaya columnist Nestor Mata:

the Senate should not ratify the economic partnership treaty with Japan. And since it can not be amended any more, perhaps Malacañang should renegotiate for an entirely new one minus the lopsided terms in the patently unconstitutional JPEPA.

Here’s also Mr. Mata’s observation against JPEPA that we, at FairTrade, cannot help but agree:

because of their failure [pro-JPEPA panel] they resorted to paid ads in newspapers, radio and television networks propagating their mantras that JPEPA would boost this country’s competitiveness and spur its economic growth.

We reiterate our stance: there is no other way but to renegotiate JPEPA because in the past six Senate hearings the government negotiators were not able to justify the merits of agreement.

Click here to read Mr. Mata’s full column on JPEPA.

Reject the JPEPA
By Nestor Mata
Malaya, November 22, 2007

WHEN environmentalists read news reports about Philippine and Japanese officials holding “quiet talks” to save JPEPA and “spare” Gloria Arroyo from embarrassment, they were visibly agitated. They have long voiced their opposition to the controversial pact and lobbied for its rejection by the Philippine Senate.

“There’s something rotten in what’s going on,” they said. They fear that the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement might be rushed by the Arroyo government in the same manner it hastily signed the corruption-tainted ZTE-NBN contract with China.

The concerned environmental groups reacted when it was reported that Malacañang and Japanese Embassy officials were “consulting each other” about working out a supplemental agreement to address the constitutional defects of the JPEPA. This was attributed to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was quoted by a Malaya report that those Palace and Japanese Embassy officials were “quietly revisiting the negotiating table” to “save the treaty and spare the President from embarrassment.”

The opponents of JPEPA were startled by Sen. Santiago’s admission that she is helping the negotiators draft the “diplomatic language” of that agreement. They wondered why she’s doing it considering that she heads the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that is jointly conducting public hearings on the pact with Sen. Mar Roxas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, before it is goes to the Senate in plenary session for either ratification or rejection. And the environmental groups recalled that she had expressed “strong reservations” about the pact being “constitutionally infirm.”

This was precisely the main issue that three eminent constitutionalists, namely, Senior Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano, Senator Wigberto Tañada, and Dean Merlin Magallona — and environmentalists had raised during the five public hearings conducted by the Santiago and Roxas committees. They had cited the constitutional violations on the national economy and patrimony that would be committed with the ratification of the pact. They unquestionably established and proved that those provisions are detrimental, a bad deal for the Philippines, and therefore deserve no less than outright rejection by the Senate.

Not only this, as noted in this column last Saturday, they showed with detailed clarity the “lopsidedness” of JPEPA and that the “best evidence” of this is the text of the pact, pointing out that Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had entered into economic partnerships with Japan, too, but these did not have the lopsided terms found in the JPEPA.

In contrast, the government officials failed to answer the questions of senators about the so-called economic benefits arising from it. And they could not explain the inclusion of toxic, hazardous, nuclear and other wastes, with zero tariffs, disguised as “exports” from Japan in the treaty, mindless of the disastrous consequences to the health of Filipinos and the environment.

The pro-JPEPA panel, as the anti-JPEPA groups bluntly put it, “miserably failed” to defend the pact during the five public hearings. And that because of their failure they resorted to paid ads in newspapers, radio and television networks propagating their mantras that JPEPA would boost this country’s competitiveness and spur its economic growth.

We agree with the anti-JPEPA environmentalists that the Senate should not ratify the economic partnership treaty with Japan. And since it can not be amended any more, perhaps Malacañang should renegotiate for an entirely new one minus the lopsided terms in the patently unconstitutional JPEPA.

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