Reject the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)! sign now

JPEPA: More Costly than the NBN Deal

The hunt for the elusive truth behind the NBN deal continues. Truth-seeking Senators must be commended for their determination to defend the Filipino people. It is time for the Filipino people to re-awaken their courage to fight against an administration that enters into numerous deals to promote private interests to the prejudice of this nation.

The NBN deal is not the last of these national robberies. The fight cannot stop. Together, the Filipino people should join hands and pray that the Senators will be equally enlightened as they debate, review, and finally cast their vote for the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

The NBN deal would have cost the Filipino people at least $130 million.

JPEPA will cost us more: for promised and theoretical Japanese investments, we are giving up our lands, our seas, our livelihood, our laws, our farmers, our fisherfolks, our migrant workers, and our lives. Our patrimony, our sovereignty, our dignity, our people, our land, our next generation of Filipinos as well will be the price to be exchanged for JPEPA.

JPEPA requires the Filipino people to pay for Japanese investments by giving up many things that we have fought for. For the Senators who have expressed their support for the treaty, we ask: whats left for the Filipino people? Whats in it for us? For you?

For minimal gains, the administration wants the Philippine Senate to join them in their constant disrespect of the Philippine Constitution and their blatant crimes against the Filipino people. The administration wants the Philippine Senate to vote for JPEPA and thus continue their mission to gain more and earn more by letting the Filipino people pay.

When will this end? Is the Senate brave enough to stop these crimes?

If JPEPA will be truly good for this nation, why was it negotiated in secrecy? Why was a Supreme Court case necessary for the people to get the final copy of the treaty? Why was JPEPA signed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in haste and without consultation with the Senate?

How much are the gains of JPEPA that can justify a violation of Constitutional provisions? Who will benefit from the claimed but yet-to-be explained gains of this treaty?

We join the collective call for the Philippine Senate to reject the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

It is a discriminatory, unconstitutional, and unfair treaty that threatens the freedom and sovereignty of the Filipino people.

For the following reasons, JPEPA, in its current form, must be rejected:

1. JPEPA was negotiated in secrecy. The Filipino people were denied of their right to information and participation in matters of public interest. Civil society organizations had to file a Supreme Court case in order to get a copy of JPEPA. A copy was released only after it was signed by the President in September 2006.

2. JPEPA grants national treatment to the Japanese and yet the Philippine negotiators made very scant reservations or exceptions to that commitment.
JPEPA allows foreign ownership of Philippine private lands in all sectors except manufacturing and services. If Japanese investors wish to engage in real estate development, agribusiness, and other similar ventures, they can now own private lands in the country. This is a crime against Filipino farmers who continue to suffer and die in the fight to own the very lands that they till.

JPEPA allows corporations with 40\% Japanese capital to engage in deep-sea fishing activities together with the Philippine government via joint venture agreements, production-sharing agreements or production-sharing agreements; a crime against Filipino fishermen who barely get government support for their livelihood.

3. Toxic, hazardous, and nuclear wastes are included in the Philippines list of tradable goods; a clear violation of national laws and the Basel Convention.

During the negotiations, the DENR wrote the DTI asking it to exclude these wastes from the list. These items were specifically stricken out in the 2003 Working Draft of the JPEPA that is available on the PIDS own website. Yet, these wastes found their way back into the actual text of the treaty.

4. In Article 93 of the JPEPA, the Philippines waived its right to require Japanese investors to transfer technology to their Filipino partners. The Philippines also surrendered the right to require Japanese investors to hire a given level of Filipinos. This voluntary surrender of rights has not been done by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Even Singapore refused to surrender its right to require Japanese investors to appoint, as executives, managers or members of boards of directors, individuals of any particular nationality, including those of its own.

5. Article 4 of the JPEPA requires the Philippines to examine the possibility of amending or repealing laws and regulations that pertain to or affect the implementation and operation of this Agreement, if the circumstances or objectives giving rise to their adoption no longer exist or if such circumstances or objectives can be addressed in a less trade-restrictive manner." This provision does not exist in Japan's agreements with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. This provision also did not exist in the 2003 Working Draft of the JPEPA.

The Philippine negotiators also restricted the law-making powers of the Congress by indicating provisions of current laws in our reservations for future measures. Japan and other ASEAN countries reserved the right to make any law or measure to protect its industries.

6. For the Filipino nurses, JPEPA classifies them as nurse trainees, relegated to the bottom of the Japans nursing system. They will be paid $400 a month in a country where the average cost of living is $1,000.

Filipino nurses will be required to learn the language and work; giving them only 1 year to pass the language exam and the nursing board exam. Japan has the discretion to extend their contracts for 2 more years.

While nurses from Indonesia are required only 2 years of work experience and a 3-year nursing course without a national licensure exam, our Philippine negotiators agreed to the requirement of 3 years of work experience for our nurses who undergo 4 years of nursing education and who must pass the national licensure exam.

7. In trade in goods, JPEPA is clearly lopsided in favor of Japanese agricultural and industrial products. The Philippines will drastically eliminate tariffs on agricultural products except for rice (5 tariff lines) and salt (1 tariff line). On the other hand, Japan was able to exclude 651 tariff lines from tariff reduction.

The government boasts of easier market access for electronics, furnitures, and automotive parts. It is not true. Even without JPEPA, these products already enter Japan duty-free. JPEPA will not change anything. For garments, the Philippines cannot take advantage of the duty-free provision because our raw materials do not come primarily from Japan or any of the ASEAN countries as required by JPEPA.

8. Article 27 and its implementing guidelines allows importation of used four wheeled vehicles; a clear violation of Executive Order 156. This provision does not exist in Japan's agreements with Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. This provision also did not exist in the 2003 Working Draft of the JPEPA. This commitment is a serious threat to local automotive industry.

9. Contrary to the administrations claim that JPEPA will spur economic growth for the entire country, one of the studies conducted on JPEPA by our own Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a non-stock, non-profit government research institution, concludes that with JPEPA, agriculture wages decline and unemployment rate in agriculture labor deteriorates.

10. JPEPA is but the first in a long line of free trade and economic partnership agreements currently being negotiated by the Philippines, and it will set the stage for all future trade and investment agreements. If we cannot strategically defend our interests in this treaty, what kind of future can we promise to the Filipino people?

The Executive branchs insistence that JPEPA be concurred with because the Philippines cannot afford "to miss the boat" as the other Asian countries are negotiating "similar" economic partnership agreements with Japan, is a misleading threat.

The pro-JPEPA panel insists that if we do not sign this treaty, we will miss the boat. Unfortunately, JPEPA in its current form will cause the Filipino people not only to miss the boat but also drown in the sea of negotiation mistakes.

The legal and moral decision for the Filipino people is clear: JUNK JPEPA!

For the sake of our lands. Our seas. Our people of this generation and the future. Our freedom. Our lives.

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Christa RollinsBy:
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Senate of the Philippines 14th Congress

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