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Jpepa paves way for more unequal treaties - group

GMANews.TV, Philippines

Jpepa paves way for more unequal treaties - group

10 October 2008

MANILA, Philippines - Activists from various organizations under the NO DEAL! Movement on Friday warned that the recently recently ratified Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) would set the precedent for more unequal economic agreements for the Philippines.

The warning came as activists noted upcoming negotiations between the Philippines and the European Union (EU).

The group sounded the alarm as they trooped to the Japanese embassy in Manila to show indignation over the recently ratified Jpepa which they claimed was railroaded by 16 senators Wednesday night.

Arnold Padilla, spokesperson of NO DEAL! said the Philippines is currently negotiating with the EU on their Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) as part the EU-ASEAN negotiation process for a free trade agreement (FTA).

"Certainly, the EU will use the Jpepa as yardstick for the trade and investment concessions it will seek from the Philippines... The problem is that the country has already surrendered much of its patrimony and economic sovereignty to the Japanese in the Jpepa such as on unrestricted foreign ownership and investment,"he said.

"The Europeans will ask for more, and then the Americans when they negotiate their own FTA with us. What else will be left for the country?" Padilla added.

The anti-Jpepa coalition also slammed the statements of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Trade secretary Peter Favila that the controversial treaty will cushion the impact on the country of the worsening US and global economic crisis.

"The Jpepa will result in the further destruction and underdevelopment of the national economy. The short- and long-term impacts of the global economic crisis on the Philippines will be further magnified as the Jpepa starts its devastation of local jobs and livelihood and marginalize Filipino investors,"Padilla said.

"The supposed benefits that will accrue from the treaty such as increased exports to Japan and more Japanese investment are false as our actual experience in the past decades of export orientation and foreign capital-driven economy clearly show", Padilla added.

Even the JPEPA negotiator Trade undersecretary Thomas Aquino admits that the projected 10-20% growth in trade and investment under the treaty did not take into account the raging crisis in the US and other major capitalist countries including Japan.

"But the fight against the destructive and anti-Filipino JPEPA is not yet over. We can still stop its implementation through people’s protests and using available legal avenues such as the Supreme Court", Padilla said.

NO DEAL! said that it will consult with other anti-Jpepa groups and personalities for the possible filing of a petition before the Supreme Court to question the treaty’s constitutionality.

Legal experts have pointed out that the Jpepa’s terms on national treatment, most favored nation (MFN), and prohibition of performance requirements violate several provisions of the 1987 Constitution.