JPEPA’s approval hits minor snag
By Efren L. Danao, Senior Reporter
1 September 2008
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said she would not submit the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to a Senate vote until after an exchange of notes with Japan has been formally signed and exchanged.
Santiago, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said over the weekend that the signing and exchanging of the diplomatic notes would make them an integral part of the treaty itself.
“I have insisted that the exchange of notes comply with the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, that is to say that it has to state explicitly this exchange should be considered an agreement between the Philippines and Japan , and shall be considered an integral part of the JPEPA,” she explained.
She added that if the exchange of notes does not explicitly declare that it is part of JPEPA, Japan might later argue that it is not binding and that it is just an ordinary diplomatic note.
“So we have insisted on the Vienna convention terminality just to make sure that it is airtight,” Santiago added
Earlier, Sen. Joker Arroyo said he would not vote for JPEPA because an exchange of notes would be a mere appendix to the agreement and there was no assurance that a mere appendix that is not part of the treaty could be enforced.
He had wanted a side agreement that would cure what he considered “constitutional infirmities” of JPEPA.
Santiago said concerns of unconstitutionality would be cured by the declaration of Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura that Japan had accepted the primacy of the Philippine Constitution over JPEPA.
She said she had already prepared the list of economic activities where Japan’s participation is limited by the Philippine Constitution
She said that there has been no exchange of notes yet because Trade Secretary Peter Favila is still abroad.
However, she stressed that the Japanese and Philippine panels had already agreed on the major points to put in writing except on question of style and grammar.
“We’ve already written this down. We’re just going through it word for word,” she said.