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AKBAYAN solon demands full disclosure of lopsided trade deal with Japan

Manila Independent Media Center

AKBAYAN solon demands full disclosure of lopsided trade deal with Japan

September 2, 2005

AKBAYAN Rep. Mayong Aguja today scored the Department of Trade and Industry and the Executive for failing to fully disclose and inform the public of the exact contents of the Japan Philippines EPA.

"This is the first comprehensive bilateral agreement that the government is signing with another country, and its terms will set the tone for future agreements," Aguja said, "and it is very suspicious that the Executive would refuse to divulge just what exactly are the terms in it even though we have been requesting for a copy for the past six months."

Aguja, together with Queozn Rep. Erin Tañada and fellow AKBAYAN Reps. Etta Rosales and Risa Hontiveros filed House Resolution 551 calling on the Special Committee on Globalization to look into the matter, "because this agreement threatens various industries and the Executive has not yet fully presented evidence that it has conducted prior consultations with the affected sectors," Aguja added.

The Mindanaoan legislator emphasized that the widespread belief is that the JPEPA would be signed within the year, "making the issue of transparency and accountability even more urgent."

Aguja also assailed the Department of Foreign Affairs for its inaction on the nature of the JPEPA. "The Arroyo administration insists the agreement is an executive agreement but we believe that where it concerns our country’s resources it should be considered a treaty subject to Senate ratification."

In fact, Aguja said, no less than the Department of Trade and Industry itself has admitted that the JPEPA would go through the Japanese Diet in a previous committee hearing.

The professor-turned-legislator also said that with the political crisis hounding the President, "she has no business trading away our communities’ rights, our natural resources in favor of the Japanese government since her mandate to do so is under question not just by the impeachment complaint but also by her questionable authority to forge this agreement."

"DTI Usec. Tom Aquino himself has admitted during the hearings of the Committee on Globalization that no bilateral agreement is ever fair," Aguja recalled. "We cannot allow the GMA administration to get away with

The JPEPA was conceived during the meeting held in Tokyo, Japan when Arroyo visited Japan in December 4, 2002. It is a proposed "partnership" to include a possible free trade agreement and other components covering services, investment, human resources development and other forms of cooperation.

 source: Manila IMC