Fishers’ Group to Spearhead ‘JPEPA-Free Zone’ Campaign

The militant group said that JPEPA will provide the widest latitude of business opportunity for Japanese manufacturing ships to dump more of their second hand ships in the Philippines and still rake windfall profits and huge returns on investments.

“Owners of Sulpicio Lines admitted that the MV Princess of the Stars was acquired as a second hand passenger and cargo ship for $5 million,” Pamalakaya said.

According to Pamalakaya, this practice has been going on since time immemorial and past administrations including the present government of Mrs. Arroyo failed to address this very disturbing issue, the proliferation of second hand and unworthy Japanese vessels sold to local Filipino businessmen.”

“The Philippine has been accommodating Japan’s passenger, cargo and commercial fishing vessels since the Marcos dictatorship under the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, even if the seaworthiness and the performance background of these vessels are highly questionable. The ratification of JPEPA will further worsen this nearly half-a century problem,” the group said.

Pamalakaya recalled that M/V Solar 1 which sank on Aug. 11, 2006 off Guimaras, spilling 21 liters of bunker fuel that was chartered by Petron Philippines from Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation was acquired from Japan.

The group suggested to House representatives and senators to review the records of 45 sea mishaps involving vessels owned by Sulpicio over the last 28 years and where these ships came from including M/V Doña Paz, M/V Doña Marilyn and M/V Princess of the Orient that sank in 1987, 1988 and 1998, respectively.

“Were these ships bought from Japan as second-hand ships? One thing is for sure, JPEPA if ratified will give Japan the full license to dump their old ships under the mantle of bilateral trade pact,” Pamalakaya said.

The militant group recalled that six years ago at the Tuna Congress held in General Santos City on Sept. 9, 2002, Japan announced that it is selling its commercial fishing vessels to the Philippine government to help the country increase its commercial tuna production beginning 2003.

Pamalakaya said there are 10,860 commercial fishing vessels operating in the Philippines in 2002, of which 4,444 commercial fishing vessels weighing 9 gross tons to 1,000 gross tons were probably imported from Japan and other foreign sources as second hand commercial fishing vessels.

The militant group said leading ocean and coastal commercial fishing corporations like Mar Fishing Corp., RBL Fishing Corp., Frabelle Fishing Corp., Irma Fishing Corp., San Andres Fishing, Unity and Development Fishing, Belen and Sons Commodities, Zamboanga Universal Fishing, RD Tuna Ventures and RD Fishing Industries can shed light on where they import their second hand commercial fishing vessels from.

Pamalakaya previously argued that JPEPA will allow Japanese factory ships to exploit the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for its vast tuna reserves. The group asserted that aside from tuna, under JPEPA, Japanese transnational fishing companies will also gobble up other marine resources that are reserved for Filipino consumption.

It had said that a 3,000 ton single factory ship could catch not less than 50,000 metric tons of tuna that is equivalent to $ 242.4 million in total gross earnings per year. “The gains the Philippine government would derive like in the form of taxes and profit- sharing would be minimal compared to what Japan will get from JPEPA as far as the fishing aspect of the agreement is concerned,” Pamalakaya added.

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