(galing kay Golda at sa Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition)
1. The secrecy, lack of public disclosure and exclusion of stakeholders,including members of Congress, in the processes leading to the adoption of JPEPA violate the Philippine Constitution on people’s participation in matters of public interest. Akbayan representatives and concerned groups had to file a Supreme Court case in order to get a copy of the full text and annexes of the JPEPA.
2. Toxic and hazardous wastes are scheduled for tariff elimination despite clear national laws and international commitments. A side note was subsequently issued to supposedly “fix” the problem but the same note covers only toxic wastes. Clinical and municipal wastes remain.
3. Contrary to repeated media statements, the actual text of the JPEPA reveals that the Philippines waived its right to demand from Japanese investors the obligation to transfer their technology to assist 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.
4. Article 4 of the JPEPA ties the hands of the Senate and the House of Representatives and requires them 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.
5. Contrary to the rosy picture painted by the Executive Department for Filipino nurses and caregivers, the JPEPA imposes extremely harsh requirements for the entry and employment of Filipino nurses and caregivers that will make it impossible for them to gain access to the Japanese market.
6. In terms of market access, 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. On the other hand, Japan was able to exclude 238 tariff lines, which include a wide range of fish and marine products, vegetables, fruits, seaweed, sugar and related products, and footwear. There is much doubt about market access claims raised by the negotiators. For seaweeds, some of the species, for which Japan has made commitments for tariff elimination, do not even grow and/or are not even farmed in the Philippines.
7. Article 27 of the JPEPA mentions cooperation in relation to used four-wheeled motor vehicles; a clear violation of EO 156 that prohibits the same. It is a clear disregard of a ruling by the Supreme Court that upheld the validity of the said law. The negotiators have repeatedly said in various fora that national laws will be respected but Annex 1: Notes of the JPEPA clearly show that “On the request of either Party, the Parties shall negotiate on issue such as market access conditions on used motor vehicles.” Furthermore, Article 27 does not exist in Japan’s agreements with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. This commitment is a serious threat to the 77,000 workers of the automotive industry.
8. Contrary to the Executive Department’s claim that JPEPA will spur economic growth and alleviate poverty, with the lopsided provisions in favor of the Japanese and the absence of a clear national and development plan for the Philippines, JPEPA may very well hasten the demise of the Philippine manufacturing and agricultural sectors and tragically sink majority of the population into deeper poverty.
9. JPEPA will restrict local government autonomy, legislative and taxation powers.
10. The administration of the treaty will create bureaucratic and financial nightmares that will effectively wipeout whatever little economic benefits there may be under JPEPA.
11. The 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?
12. The Executive Department’s 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 inaccurate. The actual text of the JPEPA and the Philippines’ severely restricted protections for its own sectors indicate that the negotiators have already caused the Philippines to miss the boat. Surely, the Filipino people deserve a better boat.