INQUIRER.net | 01/16/2008
Greenpeace: Ratifying JPEPA would be ‘criminal’
MANILA, Philippines — The environmental group Greenpeace on Wednesday said it would “be criminal” for the Senate to ratify the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Greenpeace was reacting to an earlier statement by Senator Manuel Roxas II that he was endorsing the trade treaty and that it is likely to be ratified.
"It would be a mistake for the Senate to ratify the JPEPA. Senator Roxas himself admits that ’there is not much gain that is inherent in the treaty.’ The toxic waste provisions in the JPEPA, in contrast, are inherent in the treaty. In short, [the] benefits remain to be seen, but the toxic threats it [JPEPA] presents are real and cannot be ignored by the Senate," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia toxics campaigner Beau Baconguis said.
"It would be criminal for the Senate to ratify the JPEPA. Senator Roxas and other pro-JPEPA government officials should not reduce our country to a nation of desperate beggars," she said.
Baconguis suggested that the Senate reject the JPEPA and instead “ratify the Basel Ban Amendment to further protect the country from all forms of hazardous waste trade."
The Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, adopted in 1995, prevents all forms of hazardous waste trade, even those in the guise of recycling.
It has so far been ratified by 63 countries. Although the Philippines and Japan are signatories to the Basel Convention, neither country has ratified the agreement.
Baconguis noted that provisions opening the country to imports of “toxic and nuclear wastes—including those ’fit only for disposal’ such as used diapers, incinerator ash, and radioactive nuclear waste—are plainly written in the agreement” and that “no attempt has been made to remove these and other toxic provisions from the text of the treaty” despite alarms raised by various sectors.
While acknowledging that both countries issued diplomatic notes seeking to allay fears of toxic waste dumping, “Greenpeace believes that assurance outside the treaty is doubtful—just as Japan’s intentions in pursuing ratification of the agreement are questionable,” Baconguis said.
Greenpeace claimed Japan is pursuing trade agreements with Southeast Asian nations “to reopen the region to toxic waste trafficking,” citing an August 2006 contract between the Japanese government and Shinko Research Co. Ltd. “to assess the use of bilateral agreements ’for bidirectional movement of toxic wastes between Japan and Asian countries.’”
“Greenpeace therefore believes that there is clear intent on the part of Japan to dump its unwanted wastes in the country, and that Japan is banking on the desperation of the [Philippine] government to improve trade status with Japan or to get developmental aid,” Baconguis said.