‘JPEPA Exchange of Notes, Derogation of Constitution’

September 12, 2008 – 2:38 p.m.

A former dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law called the exchange of notes between the Philippine and Japanese diplomats regarding the controversial economic agreement ‘a derogation of the Constitution.’

Prof. Merlin M. Magallona was referring to the exchange of diplomatic letters between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura last August. Both parties expressed a ‘shared understanding’ that the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will not violate the 1987 Constitution.

Senator Miriam Santiago, chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the exchange of notes resolves the constitutional defects of the JPEPA and thus ensures its ratification.

Magallona does not agree saying that “the exchange of notes reaffirms the rights and obligations of the parties under the JPEPA and, in the overall result, JPEPA remains at war with the Constitution.”

Magallona’s paper was distributed in a forum titled “JPEPA Deal or No Deal: The People’s Issues” organized by the No Deal! Movement and the La Sallian Justice and Peace Commission (LJPC) in cooperation with the Benedictines for Peace of St. Scholastica’s College.

Magallona said that while the JPEPA does not intend to directly amend the charter, the treaty will supersede or supplant it. “In application and in settlement of disputes over JPEPA’s interpretation, JPEPA will prevail over the Constitution in the event that the Senate gives its imprimatur. In case of incompatibility between JPEPA and the Constitution as an issue to be decided by an arbitral tribunal that may be created by the parties pursuant to JPEPA, that tribunal will apply JPEPA over and above the Constitution,” wrote Magallona.

Magallona concluded that “the choice before the Senate is clear: JPEPA or the Philippine Constitution”.

After the forum at the De La Salle University (DLSU), students, teachers, nurses, church people and others held a human chain and noise barrage against JPEPA.

The No Deal! Movement asked the Senate, which has been deliberating on the JPEPA, to reject the treaty because it will undermine the country’s national patrimony and sovereignty, and will harshly impact on local industries, livelihood and environment.

The No Deal! Movement is a coalition of people’s organizations, non-government groups and patriotic individuals campaigning against unequal economic deals.

No Deal! Movement Spokesperson Arnold Padilla said that they will continue their lobbying efforts to block the JPEPA’s ratification. ” Too much is at stake in the JPEPA for us to let Santiago and Malacañang have their way”, Padilla said. (Bulatlat.com)

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