BY JANESS ANN ELLAO
April 21, 2008 – 2:14 p.m.
At 10:30 a.m. this morning , activists and environmental advocates belonging to the No Deal! JPEPA Movement Against Unequal Economic Agreement staged a “swim protest” at the Manila Bay, near the Senate Office in Pasay City, to urge the senators to junk the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). The No Deal! JPEPA movement and Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment timed their protest action urging the senators to vote against JPEPA a day before International Earth Day.
Eight activists dived into the waters of Manila Bay and shouted “Ibasura ang JPEPA.” (Junk JPEPA) Two other protesters held garbage bins with “Junk JPEPA” written on them while another held a boat made of cardboard with a flag of Japan and an image of President Arroyo on the deck.
Eight votes are needed to prevent the ratification of the JPEPA. So far, only Sen. Jamby Madrigal has made a public statement opposing the JPEPA. But there are reportedly four or five more senators who may be expected to oppose the JPEPA’s ratification, aside from Madrigal.
According to No Deal! JPEPA, JPEPA will further worsen the country’s food crisis as lands devoted to the production of food will be transformed into pineapple and banana plantations to meet the demands of the Japanese market.
Arnold Padilla, No Deal JPEPA spokesperson, explained that the treaty will allow the Japanese investors to drain our country’s natural resources, especially agricultural and the fisheries resources.
He added that there is the possibility that the deal’s ratification will increase the unemployment rate.
In its press release, Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) stated that it believes the ratification of JPEPA means environmental disaster for our country. Padilla, meanwhile, said that the industrial waste that is going to be exported in the country supposedly for recycling will create environmental damage.
Aside from Senator Madrigal, Padilla said that they are also hoping for Sen. Pia Cayetanos’ vote against JPEPA. He added that there four to five other senators who rendered would likely vote against JPEPA.
“I-didiretso namin sa Supreme Court” (We will head straight to the Supreme Court), says Padilla when asked what his group’s next move would be if the ratification pushes through.
According to Padilla, JPEPA has serious constitutional issues such as the provisions on foreign ownership and foreign participation in particular investment areas. “Even Sens. Mar Roxas and Miriam Santiago, who are pro-JPEPA, have admitted that the JPEPA has serious constitutional problems,” Padilla said. (Bulatlat.com)