Give donation to Consortium

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

JPEPA's New Side 'Agreement': A Deceptive Exchange of Notes

The mountain labored hard and managed to produce a mouse out of the so-called "exchange of notes" on the anti-Constitutional Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement.

It will be recalled that the Senate suspended its deliberations on the ratification of the proposed bilateral treaty to give the executive branch ample time to work out with the Japanese side corrections on JPEPA provisions that violate the Philippine Constitution. Senator Miriam Santiago, the chief sponsor of JPEPA in the Senate, openly admitted the Constitutional infirmities of JPEPA and even recommended conditional Senate concurrence to JPEPA "as an absolute necessity," otherwise the Supreme Court would declare JPEPA unconstitutional. And yet today, the lady Senator is now recommending simple Senate concurrence to JPEPA for the reason that the Exchange of Notes between Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Minister of Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura already adequately resolves the Constitutional flaws of JPEPA. simply on the basis of their shared understanding on the interpretation of JPEPA. With all due respect, the Exchange of Notes is but a piece of paper, as it is ineffectual and inadequate in curing the Constitutional flaws in JPEPA.

As a backgrounder, JPEPA as currently worded, gives to Japanese rights to full ownership of Philippine lands, unhampered exploration and development of Philippine minerals and other resources, unrestricted access in the management of Philippine public utilities and mass media, and equal treatment in the exploitation of Philippine territorial waters. In addition, JPEPA allows the illegal trade in toxic wastes and used vehicles, even as the treaty gives the Japanese side greater trade flexibility through a long list of excluded tariff lines. Thus, the appeal of the Fair Trade Alliance to both the legislative and executive branches of the government to stop the ratification process and instead re-negotiate the treaty and purge it of its anti-Constitutional and anti-development features. FairTrade thought that this appeal was heeded when the JPEPA hearings were suspended and Malacanang leaked the information that the Department of Foreign Affairs was exploring a side agreement with Japan.

In this context, the Exchange of Notes between DFA Secretary Romulo and his Japanese counterpart, Minister Koumura is a labor in vain for there is nothing in the Exchange of Notes that revises or modifies any of the above anti-Charter provisions of JPEPA. In fact, the exchange of notes in Paragraph 4 thereof expressly provides that it "does not modify the rights and obligations of the parties under the provisions of the JPEPA." Further, the Exchange of Notes is not an agreement between the parties and moreover, is not considered an integral part of JPEPA. Clearly, the said Exchange of Notes between the two countries failed to cure the anti-charter provisions of JPEPA.

We, at the Fair Trade Alliance, therefore, call on the Senate to defer any further hearing or deliberation on the JPEPA until the treaty is truly healed of its Constitutional infirmities and economic imbalances. We support the stand of Senator Francis Pangilinan for a genuine re-negotiation, not a defective and ineffectual exchange of notes. Let us summon the will to assert Philippine interests through a fair and balanced treaty! Otherwise, JPEPA as it is currently worded, must be rejected by the Senate.

Sa mga Senador: Tumindig tayo bilang tunay na Senador ng Bayan!

No comments:

Post a Comment