INQUIRER.net | 08/28/2008
SEN SANTIAGO TO COLLEAGUES
‘Don’t vote on JPEPA until sure pact complies with Charter’
By Veronica Uy
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday said she will ask Senate President Manuel Villar to postpone voting on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) until after a formal exchange of notes that will guarantee the treaty does not violate the Constitution.
"No exchange of notes, no treaty," she said.
Santiago, who sponsored the treaty on the floor as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, said the exchange of notes would comply with the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, to ensure that it is an integral part of JPEPA and binding on the two parties.
Compliance with the Vienna Convention means stating explicitly that the exchange of notes is considered an agreement between the two countries.
"If we do not use this language, eventually Japan might see an opening to make the argument that [the exchange of notes] is not binding, that it is just an ordinary diplomatic note. So we have insisted on the Vienna convention terminology just to make sure that it is airtight," she said.
Santiago said that even while the exchange of notes has yet to happen because, among other reasons, Trade Secretary Peter Favila is still out of the country, there has been a meeting of the minds as to the content of the notes.
"We’ve already written this down, we’re just going through it word for word," she said.
Many quarters have criticized the JPEPA and asked the Senate to reject the agreement, saying it not only will place the Philippines at a disadvantage in terms of trade, it would also open the country to imports of Japanese industrial wastes.