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Supreme Court asked to nullify JPEPA

Philippine Daily Inquirer | 10/13/2008

Supreme Court asked to nullify JPEPA

By Norman Bordadora

MANILA, Philippines — The Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party and eight other organizations asked the Supreme Court on Monday to prevent the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that the Senate ratified last week.

Akbayan and the environment, fishers and workers’ groups want the high tribunal to annul the Senate ratification because the chamber allegedly gravely abused its discretion when it approved the pact despite its supposedly unconstitutional provisions.

The petitioners also asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order to keep the Philippine government from performing acts relative to the JPEPA.

“This petition seeks only for a ruling that the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines acted with grave abuse of discretion when they cast a vote of concurrence for a JPEPA that is riddled with provisions amounting to constitutional assaults,” the 54-page petition read.

Named as respondents in the petition are Senate President Manuel Villar and the 15 other senators who voted for the approval of the JPEPA and the government officials who will directly be involved in the agreement’s enactment and implementation.

They are Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales.

“I challenge all presidential aspirants in the Senate who voted for the JPEPA to reconsider their decision. If they want to lead the nation, then they should start abiding by their patriotic duty to put national interest first,” Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.

Among the potential presidential candidates who voted for the JPEPA are Senators Villar, Manuel Roxas II, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda and Panfilo Lacson.

“It is clear that the JPEPA is not only against national interests but it is also manifestly unconstitutional. It is the first bilateral agreement of this scope in the Philippines and will set the tone for future bilateral agreements,” Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros said that under JPEPA, toxic and hazardous wastes would be allowed to enter the country — “a violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

She also cited a JPEPA provision allowing foreign ownership of Philippine private lands in all sectors except manufacturing and services.

Hontiveros said the JPEPA would also allow corporations with 40 percent Japanese capital to engage in deep-sea fishing activities together with the Philippine government via joint venture agreements, production sharing agreements or co-production agreements — “a violation of the constitutional rule which reserves the utilization and enjoyment of the nation’s marine wealth to Filipino citizens.”

 source: PDI