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KMP threatens boycott of Japanese products: Farmers’ group urges Japan not to push through with JPEPA

Business Mirror | 3-4 November 2006

KMP threatens boycott of Japanese products

By Jonathan Mayuga

THE leftist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is threatening to boycott Japanese products if the Japanese government would push for the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).

The 1.5 million-strong KMP vowed to launch the campaign in protest against the alleged lopsided agreement, which environmentalists fear would turn the Philippines into Japan’s toxic chemical dump.

Willy Marbella, internal deputy secretary of KMP, urged the Japanese government to respect the right of Filipinos to a clean and safe environment.

“If Japan would continue to disregard the right of Filipinos to have a clean and safe environment, then we would be forced to call for the boycott. The Jpepa will only make the Philippines as a dumpsite. It is as if we do not have enough garbage here already,” Marbella said.

Marbella said KMP is now making a list of Japanese products that will be included in their campaign. He said their members would boycott fertilizers, pesticides and different farm equipment from Japan.

He said supporters of their cause can boycott Japanese-made appliances, cars, or even electronic gadgets and equipment.

“We must show the Japanese government that we are dead serious in our demand to junk the Jpepa, so we must hit them where it hurts,” Marbella said.

“If our calculations are correct, the boycott would offset the Japanese profits from Jpepa at the minimum. If they are smart they should junk it now and work for a fairer agreement.
The Japanese government is giving us crumbs while the Macapagal-Arroyo regime accepts it without question. Gloria is essentially selling our whole country for a mere pittance,” the peasant leader said.

Marbella said the Senate should insist that Jpepa must pass its scrutiny and that of the people.

“Those of us who would be directly affected should be invited in the Senate inquiry to say our piece against the Jpepa. We have almost nothing to gain, and everything to lose with the Jpepa. We must make the majority of our people aware of this fact so that they can also participate in stopping this onerous agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) chided the declaration of Labor Secretary Arturo Brion that Japanese shipping industry players are planning to hire 10,000 merchant marine officers in the next three years.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairman, said such declaration was a nothing but a “desperate sales pitch” for the controversial Jpepa.

“That is a myth. A fantastic sales pitch to sell the Japanese invasion and colonialization of the Philippines for the second time around since the Second World War,” Hicap said.

Brion, who attended a shipping industry conference in Japan last week, said the Japanese hoped the Philippines could supply 8,000 to 10,000 officer positions in about 1,000 new ships expected to be constructed over the next three years.

“Brion’s statement is not a fearless forecast with scientific basis, but a ‘praise release’ announced by a Jpepa town crier,” Hicap said.

The militant leader said the so-called plan of Japan to hire 10,000 Filipino seamen will not come true, saying the Japanese government has, in fact, limited the entry of Filipino merchant officers in the second largest capitalist country by imposing high standards and stricter rules on Filipino seamen planning to work in Japan.

The Japanese government under Jpepa was not interested in bringing in more Filipino seamen to work in Japan’s expanding shipping industry, Pamalakaya said.

The group said aside from dumping their toxic waste, the Japanese government will instead send its big commercial fishing vessels to the country’s most productive fishing grounds in search of yellowfin tuna and skip jack instead of importing it directly from the Philippines under the controversial trade pact between the two countries.

“Japan is not interested on Filipino merchant marine officers but is after our rich tuna reserves. Under Jpepa, the government will allow Japanese transnational fishing companies to fish in Sulu, Moro Gulf and waters extending to Celebes Sea, the country’s marine waters, which are known rich in yellowfin tuna and skip jack “deposits,” the group insisted.

“The Japanese monopolies in tuna industry know that 55 percent of the country’s yellowfin tuna and skipjack are found in the waters of Mindanao. They can send their 8,000-ton fishing fleets there to harvest our tuna under the banner of Jpepa. This is the implication of this one-sided agreement,” Hicap said.

Hicap said Jpepa is a license for Japan to complete its imperialist takeover of the country’s marine resources.

He said under Jpepa, the national government will allow Japanese fishing fleets to enter into the country, while Japan will allow small Filipino fisherfolk to fish in Japanese fishing waters using their small fishing boats.

This, Hicap said, is “unfair, grossly illogical and totally outrageous.”

At present there are 130 large-scale commercial fishing vessels operating in the country, majority of them owned by transnational companies based in the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Japan.

Hicap identified these companies owning large-scale fishing vessels under joint venture schemes as Mar Fishing Corp., RBL Fishing Corp., Frabelle Fishing Corp., Irma Fishing, San Andres Fishing, Unity and Development Fishing, Belen and Sons Commodities, Zamboanga Universal Fishing, RD Tuna Ventures and RD Fishing Industries.

Pamalakaya insists that Jpepa is not an assurance that Philippine tuna exports to Japan would increase, saying the trend of tuna exports to Japan has been decreasing tremendously since 1995, because of Japan’s protectionist policy blocking imported tuna from the country.

The group said the value of the country’s tuna exports to Japan went down by 55 percent from $267 million in 1995 to $ 121 million in 2002. Shrimp exports to Japan dropped 50 percent as well.

Pamalakaya rebuffed reports that the cause of diminishing export of tuna in Japan was the increase in the number of tuna canning facilities in the country.

 source: Business Mirror