August 14, 2007
Toxic Treaty Favors Japan, Not the Philippines
Senate Forum Bares Legal Traps and Empty Promises of the JPEPA
by Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition
“In my view, the JPEPA is an atrocious treaty,” exclaimed noted international legal law expert and former Dean of the UP College of Law, Dean Merlin Magallona, one of the invited speakers at a roundtable discussion at the Senate today, which provided the venue for impacted sectors to share their findings on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).[i] Representatives and experts on behalf of nurses, agricultural workers, labor, and debt issues were present at the roundtable discussion. Foremost among the concerns raised by the group is how much favored Japan is under the JPEPA, at the expense of Filipinos and how the treaty ties the hands of the Philippine legislature in passing protective and development measures that favor and support Filipinos.
“It is high time that the sanitizing glare of the Senate and public scrutiny be placed upon this agreement,” said Atty. Tanya Lat, lead counsel for the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition. “Once the Senators have closely examined JPEPA they will see for themselves just how much of our future we have traded away for illusory short term gains.”
Dean Magallona and other experts at the forum pointed out that the JPEPA obligates the Philippines to automatically treat Japanese investors equal to Filipinos in practically all aspects of their investments in the Philippines, considerably more than what Japan has with other countries. “What is the value of a Filipino in his own economy?” wonders Dean Magallona, when the Philippine government through JPEPA has placed Japanese as our equals.
Alarm was also raised over the incomplete and sloppy reservations made by the Philippines for existing and future measures under Annex 7 of the agreement relating to investments. Reservations are crucial because it acts as a protective barrier for a country’s interest, and failure to include a reservation under Annex 7 of the JPEPA prevents a country from invoking that protection or law for the entire life of the treaty.
For existing measures, it was revealed at the forum that Japan’s reservations are extensive compared to the Philippines. In various investments areas Japan will deny Filipinos the right of equal treatment (national treatment); they will deny the Philippines favorable treatment they accord other countries (most-favoured nation); and Japan will impose performance requirements such as preferential use of Japanese labor to the detriment of Filipino labor.
For future protection under JPEPA, Japan invoked the right to adopt or maintain any measure relating to investment against the Philippines. The Philippines has none. The failure of the Philippine negotiators to reserve future measures severely limits Philippine legislative power under JPEPA, raising serious constitutional issues, particularly the usurpation by the executive branch of legislative powers violating the principle of independence of the three branches of government.
Dean Magallona also stressed that under the JPEPA any preferences given to Japan will have to be extended to other 150 members of the WTO. “JPEPA extends far beyond WTO commitments,” further warns Dean Magallona.
“We’ve given the Japanese everything, including the kitchen sink, under the JPEPA,” exclaimed Mr. Josua Mata, Secretary General of the Alliance for Progressive Labor. “Who’s next in line? The Chinese? The Americans? What will be left for us and for our country, and more importantly, will there be anything left for future Filipinos?”
The other speakers raised the following findings on JPEPA:
– Toxic Wastes: The exchange of diplomatic notes between Japan and the Philippines is an insufficient safeguard because Japan can easily re-classify its toxic wastes into recyclable wastes and claim that these wastes have economic value for the Philippines. Ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment by the Philippines and Japan is needed.
– Fisheries: The coverage area of JPEPA includes the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelf. This could possibly allow unhampered access of Japanese commercial fishing industry to at the expense of municipal and artisanal fishers. JPEPA will further exploit depleted Philippine marine resources.
– Philippine Nurses: JPEPA merely treats our workforce as commodities to be traded in exchange of remittances. Filipino nurses migrate to work abroad not out of choice but out of necessity. They would rather stay here but the government has yet to this day implemented the Nursing Act of 2002 and the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers; thus, many nurses still continue to receive below living wages and inadequate benefits.
– Domestic Labor: JPEPA would result in de-industrialization and endanger the country’s domestic agricultural and industrial products resulting in the dislocation of domestic labor associated with the industries that produces these goods. The free entry of lower-costing products from Japan will further result in the dependence of our agricultural and industrial sectors to imported goods
– Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). JPEPA will not address the failures of the Japanese ODA. The fact that 99% of the ODAs are loans rather than outright grants, and the endemic issues of corruption and lack of transparency in the handling of foreign assistance funds will remain, in spite of JPEPA.
“If the Senate is to exhaustively hear this treaty out, it must do so with respect to all sectors affected,” stated Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Basel Action Network, Asia-Pacific. “The JPEPA is first in a line of bilateral trade and investments agreement which the executive is itching to sign. It’s better to start on the right foot - look at the facts not the propaganda, and ask the real question, “What are we really trading, anyway?”
Sen. Pia Cayetano accepts a symbolic gift of a recycled lamp from Atty. Tanya Lat of IDEALS and Ms. Marie Marciano, Steering Committe Member, EcoWaste Coalition during a Senate forum on JPEPA’s impacts on the different sectors of Philippine society. The lamp symbolizes our hope that the light of truth and justice will prevail over the Senate during the upcoming hearings on JPEPA. The forum, held last 14 August 2007 at the Pecson Room of the Philippine Senate, was co-sponsored by the office of Sen. Pia Cayetano and the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coaltion.
More than 150 coalition members, media representatives, and Senate staff members were present at the event. Speakers at the event included Dean Merlin Magallona, former Dean of the UP College of Law; Dr. Ed Tadem, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, Asian Center, UP Diliman; Dr. Leah Primitiva G. Samaco-Paquiz,National President, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA); Mr. Josua Mata,Secretary General, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL); Ms. Arze Glipo,Executive Director, Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF); and Atty. Tanya Lat,Consultant, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services,Inc. (IDEALS).
THE MAGKAISA JUNK JPEPA COALITION
AKBAYAN Citizens’ Action Party * Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) * APL Davao * Alternative Law Groups (ALG) * ALTEResearch * ANAKAPATIRAN * Bangon Kalikasan Movement * Basel Action Network Asia-Pacific (BANAP) * Buklod Tao Foundation * Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) * Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa (BISIG) * Cagayan Valley Center for Rural Empowerment and Development Organization (CREDO) Cavite Green Coalition (CGC) * Center for Agrarian Reform., Empowerment and Transformation (CARET) * Center for Migrants’ Advocacy (CMA) * Center for Participatory Governance (CPAG) * Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE) * Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC Party List) * Coalition Against the Trafficking in Women - Asia - Pacific (CATW-AP) * Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP) * Concerned Citizens for Truthful Information (CCTI) * Crossian Economics Society (CROSSECOS) - Holy Cross of Davao College * Ecological Society of the Philippines (ESP) * Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines, Inc. (EcoWaste) * Economics College Faculty - Holy Cross of Davao College * Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) * F. Bangoy National High School Teachers’ Employees Union * Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors (FORGE) * Freedom From Debt Coalition (FDC) * Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) * Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) - Davao Council * Green Initiatives, Inc. * Greenpeace Southeast Asia * Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) * Institute for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Inc. (IDEALS) * Institute for Politics and Governance (IPG) * Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF) * Kilusang Mangingisda (KM) * KANLUNGAN Centre Foundation, Inc. * Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomya (KME) * Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) * Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc. (KFI) * Kinaiyahan Unahon! Davao * Krusada sa Kalikasan * Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) * LAGMAN Federation * League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO) * Liga Manggagawa * Lingkod Tao-Kalikasan * MAKABAYAN * Miriam PEACE * Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) * Mother Earth Philippines * NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR) * November 17 Movement * PKMP * Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) * PANDAYAN Para sa Sosyalistang Pilipinas * Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) * Pangisda - Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya * Partido Kalikasan - Metro Manila * People’s Alternative Center for Research and Education for Social Development (PASCRES) * Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) * Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) * Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) * Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis (PIGLAS) * Sanlakas-Davao * Sanib - Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan (SALIKA) * Sining-Yapak * Soljuspax * Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) * Stop the New Round Coalition (SNR) * Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) * Supreme Student Government - Holy Cross of Davao College * Sustainable Integrated Area Development Initiatives in Mindanao-Convergence of Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD) * TAMBUYOG Development Center (TDC) * Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS) * Teacher’s Organization of Philippine Public Sector - Education International (TOPPS/EI) - Women’s Committee Davao * United Small Fisherman Association (USFA) * Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (ZWRMPFI)