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Filipino fishers JPEPA’s biggest losers, says leftwing group | 04/17/2008

Filipino fishers JPEPA’s biggest losers, says leftwing group

By Abigail Kwok

MANILA, Philippines — The Filipino fishermen would be the biggest losers once the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is ratified by the Philippine Senate, a leftwing group said Thursday.

“We [fishermen] are the biggest losers with JPEPA,” said Gerry Corpuz, spokesman of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, disputing claims that the bilateral accord would be beneficial for both the agricultural and fisher folk sectors.

In a phone interview Thursday, Corpuz said the JPEPA would be detrimental to Filipino fishermen because Japan would be bringing in their factory ships to fish for tuna in the Philippine waters.

Once approved, an estimated 200,000 metric tons of tuna would be fished annually by the Japanese under the agreement. This would amount to $970 million or P44 billion annual loses for the fisher folk sector.

Corpuz also said there would be no technology transfer with JPEPA and that only the Japanese would benefit from the agreement.

At the same time, Corpuz accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of “discreetly blackmailing” the Senators by urging them to promptly approve the agreement or Japanese investors would shy away from the Philippines.

“Japan’s grease money, bribes and payoffs in the form of direct investments, loans and grants are coming to the picture mainly to condition public minds that President Arroyo has scored a major victory in signing JPEPA and the Senate has no option but to ratify it,” Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France said in a statement.

“That seems to be the game plan of Arroyo and her Japanese clients behind JPEPA,” he said.

President Arroyo has urged the Senate to pass the bilateral agreement amid strong opposition from environmentalists and civil society groups, saying the accord would allow Japan to dump its toxic wastes in the country.

 source: Inquirer