BY EMILY VITAL
January 16, 2008 – 11:35am
Anti-JPEPA groups criticized Sen. Mar Roxas’ statement regarding the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
The No Deal! JPEPA said Roxas’ statement is premature and added that it is tantamount to “conditioning the public’s mind that the controversial JPEPA will be ratified by the Senate very soon.”
In a press conference yesterday, Roxas categorically said that he is advocating for the ratification of the deal.
Willy Marbella, No Deal! JPEPA convenor and officer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) argued, “The Senate and Malacañang have not yet made public the so-called side deal on constitutional issues and the details of the P20-billion worth of safety nets program.”
The multi-sectoral alliance noted that Sen. Miriam Santiago has been holding bilateral talks with the Japanese embassy in Manila since December last year for a side accord to supposedly address the JPEPA’s serious constitutional flaws. “But the public is clueless what the side accord contains and whether its provisions are enough to assuage the concerns raised by prominent legal experts that the JPEPA violates the 1987 Constitution,” said Marbella.
The No Deal! JPEPA warned Roxas, who is widely perceived as eyeing the presidency in 2010, that his position on the JPEPA could impact on whatever his political plans are. “By declaring that he is advocating the ratification of the anti-people economic treaty, Roxas is driving away a wide base of political support composed of farmers and workers,” said Marbella.
Roxas said that “the loss is definitely calculable.” But Sonny Africa, research head of independent think tank IBON, said that the loss to the local economy of JPEPA goes beyond what can immediately be computed in monetary terms to affect the country’s future economic development.
Even as IBON estimates annual revenue losses at P10.6 billion because of tariff removals under JPEPA, Africa said that the bigger loss from the free trade pact is ultimately its effect on the country’s economic sovereignty and its right to impose policies to protect its industries and promote its long-term economic development.
Africa said, “The effect of [the JPEPA’s] provisions can not be readily computed monetarily, but the loss to the domestic economy is very real and concrete, in terms of lost livelihoods and local firms closed…These losses are inherent in the JPEPA.”(Bulatlat.com)