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Alliance forged vs RP-Japan trade pact

Philippine Daily Inquirer | 6 November 2006

Alliance forged vs RP-Japan trade pact

By Blanche Rivera, Philip Tubeza

FROM militants to high society matrons, citizens’ groups have embarked on a joint effort to fight the ratification of a controversial Philippine-Japan economic agreement they fear would turn the country into a “garbage republic” for Japan’s toxic and hazardous waste.

In the House, party-list Rep. Teddy Casino said the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) did not guarantee job opportunities in Japan for Filipino health workers.

“While it is possible that Japan may have verbally promised the Philippine government entry of Filipino nurses to address their current shortage in health workers and caregivers, JPEPA explicitly states that the Japanese government is not committed to liberalizing its health service sector,” Casiño said.

The broad-based coalition dubbed Magkaisa Junk JPEPA involves environmentalists, trade lawyers, academicians and leftist lawmakers who will work against ratification in the Philippine Senate of the deal President Macapagal-Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi signed in Helsinki, Finland, on Sept. 9.

“Our stand against JPEPA is grounded on our opposition to all forms of waste dumping, be it by Filipinos or Japanese, because we are not a garbage republic,” Ecowaste Coalition’s Marie Marciano said in a statement.

Ecowaste Coalition, which alone has around 50 member groups, is part of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA. Other members of the coalition are Mother Earth Foundation, Akbayan, Initiatives for Dialogue & Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Inc., Lawyers for the Environment, Green Initiatives, Miriam-PEACE and other concerned individuals.

Magkaisa Junk JPEPA will be officially launched on Monday (Nov. 6) in time for the reopening of the Senate, the country’s treaty-ratifying body.

“This is an opportunity for the Senate to unite, speak up and shine as a people’s institution that upholds the honor and dignity of every Filipino and protects our health from the lurking dangers of JPEPA,” Marciano said.

The coalition has the support of the Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN), an international network of environmental activists monitoring implementation of the Basel Convention, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste and materials.

The JPEPA, which covers 11,300 tariff lines for commodities and services, will mandate zero tariff on waste and other materials considered toxic and hazardous under Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act, and the Basel Convention.

 source: INQ7