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Tokyo rejects ‘detailed’ JPEPA side agreement, solon says

GMA News | 07/30/2008

Tokyo rejects ‘detailed’ JPEPA side agreement, solon says

Bernard U. Allauigan, BusinessWorld

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate may have to be satisfied with a mere "general statement" of assurance that the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will not violate existing constitutional constraints and international law commitments before it concurs with this landmark trade pact, a key solon in this issue said Tuesday.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the committee on foreign relations that will endorse JPEPA for concurrence by the plenary, told reporters Tuesday that she would recommend concurrence - with senators indicating their reservations in writing on the document - since Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura had "refused to accede" to her request of a detailed side agreement.

"He [Mr. Katsura] could not agree to my format. I wanted every constitutional provision involved to be listed. It’s a long document because I listed every provision of our Constitution," Ms. Santiago said.

"He wants only a general statement that [JPEPA] will conform with the Constitution."

Controversial provisions of JPEPA include giving Japanese parties under this treaty the same rights as Filipinos, as well as inclusion of toxic waste among the articles to be traded, which critics charge contravene the country’s accession to international treaties against cross-border transfer of such waste.

The bilateral free trade agreement needs to be voted by two-thirds of the Senate - or 16 votes - to take effect.

"That is my dilemmaIn effect, he [Mr. Katsura] has made up my mind. I am going to simply recommend concurrence, with every senator just writing what his or her views are on the side agreement," Ms. Santiago said.

She said the only remaining issue is whether the side agreement should come before or after Senate concurrence.

A committee report is due this week and a sponsorship of the concurrent resolution is due next week, Ms. Santiago said.

In April, the Senate foreign relations and trade and commerce committees released a proposed committee report and a resolution recommending conditional concurrence on the treaty.

The Senate sought an ex-change of notes with the Japanese government to address constitutional and other legal questions specific JPEPA provisions had raised.

 source: GMANews