Manila militants urge incoming senators to reject Philippine-Japan trade pact

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Manila Militants Urge Incoming Senators To Reject Philippine-Japan Trade Pact

By Komfie Manalo - AHN News Writer

31 May 2007

Manila, Philippines (AHN) — Manila-based militant group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakay ng Pilipinas on Tuesday urged incoming senators to reject the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, which they described as the "second Japanese occupation of the Philippines."

In a statement, Fernando Hicap, national chairman of the fishers group Pamalakaya, appealed to senatorial candidates Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Manuel Villar, and Alan Peter Cayetano, all likely to win in the May 14 senatorial race, to reject the JPEPA.

Hicap said, "In the name of national interest, we ask Legarda, Escudero, Villar and Cayetano to rally the new Senate against the one-sided trade agreement."

The four senatorial candidates are consistent top-notchers in the ongoing canvassing of votes by the Commission on Elections and are assured of making it to the Senate.

The group made the appeal after Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured the Japanese government that the Philippine Senate would ratify the trade pact during her four-day visit to Tokyo last week.

In her meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Arroyo said Abe agreed to sign a side agreement to clarify that the Philippines would not be made a dumping ground for toxic wastes, the issue raised by groups and some senators against JPEPA.

Environmentalists and lawmakers have expressed fears that the country would become a dumping site of Japan’s hazardous industrial wastes once the trade agreement was ratified.

However, Hicap argued that JPEPA was not only about the dumping of toxic wastes in the Philippines.

He maintained that even if the Japanese government would remove the provision on the exportation of its wastes, the agreement would still be disastrous to local economy and environment.

"The real intention of Japan, the world’s second global economic bully and exploiter, is to take advantage of the country’s natural resources and cheap labor and overstretch the domestic market as dumping ground for Japan’s surplus products," Hicap said.

The Pamalakaya leader claimed that under JPEPA, Japan would mobilize its 8,000-ton fishing vessels to catch tuna in the Philippines.

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