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Saturday, April 26, 2008
Saying No to JPEPA !
Are there at least 8 Senators who love our country?
While the nation’s focus in on the rice crisis and the escalating food prices, the Senate, according to Senator Pia Cayetano, is poised to approve the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) “despite objections.” Senators seem to be convinced, like Malacañang, that the Philippines may be left behind if the JPEPA is not approved. Japanese investments and official development agreement may be withheld from this country if the JPEPA is not approved.
Critics of JPEPA have an online campaign asking the Filipino people to convince their senators to cast their votes for the Filipino people by junking JPEPA. Only eight senators need to vote vs. JPEPA. Will there be at least 8 Senators who will show their love for our people and this land by saying no to JPEPA? For those interested to know more about why the Senators and the Filipino people should not accept the present JPEPA, please see http://www.Petition Online.com/ jpepa/petition. html.
The move of Senator Miriam Santiago to endorse the approval of JPEPA subject to conditionalities show that even the endorser herself has questions about the present JPEPA. If the treaty is not tight and totally acceptable, why approve this? What is the truth behind JPEPA?
Is the JPEPA truly beneficial for our country and our people? We have no objection to an economic partnership agreement with Japan or any country provided the provisions will truly benefit our people and our land.
Objections to the JPEPA have taken the form of the issue of toxic waste, the stringent conditions required for our Filipino nurses and caregivers, and the secrecy that accompanied the signing of the treaty by GMA that denied our people and even the Senate to deliberate on the treaty from the start.
Some less known highlights of the objections about the JPEPA posed by its critics include:
1. The NBN deal would have cost the Filipino people at least $130 million. JPEPA will cost us more: For promised and theoretical Japanese investments, we are giving up our lands, our seas, our livelihood, our laws, our farmers, our fisherfolk, our migrant workers, and our lives. Our patrimony, our sovereignty, our dignity, our people, our land, our next generation of Filipinos as well will be the price to be exchanged for JPEPA.
2. JPEPA grants national treatment to the Japanese. JPEPA allows foreign ownership of Philippine private lands in all sectors except manufacturing and services. If Japanese investors wish to engage in real estate development, agribusiness, and other similar ventures, they can now own private lands in the country. This is a crime against Filipino farmers who continue to suffer and die in the fight to own the very lands that they till. JPEPA also allows corporations with 40% Japanese capital to engage in deep-sea fishing activities together with the Philippine government via joint venture agreements, production-sharing agreements or production-sharing agreements; a crime against Filipino fishermen who barely get government support for their livelihood.
3. In Article 93 of the JPEPA, the Philippines waived its right to require Japanese investors to transfer technology to their Filipino partners. The Philippines also surrendered the right to require Japanese investors to hire a given level of Filipinos. This voluntary surrender of rights has not been done by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The provisions contained in Article 4 and Article 27 of the JPEPA do not exist in similar EPAs with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The Philippine negotiators also restricted the law-making powers of the Congress by indicating provisions of current laws in our reservations for future measures. Article 27 and its implementing guidelines allows importation of used four wheeled vehicles; a clear violation of Executive Order 156.
4. JPEPA is but the first in a long line of free trade and economic partnership agreements currently being negotiated by the Philippines, and it will set the stage for all future trade and investment agreements. If we cannot strategically defend our interests in this treaty, what kind of future can we promise to the Filipino people? Will the Senators insist on ratifying JPEPA in its current form despite clear objections and clear threats to our lands, our seas, our people of this generation and the future and our freedom, our lives? Will there be at least eight Senators who will block the current form of the JPEPA for the sake of our people and our land?