Commentary: JPEPA needs to be renegotiated?
By Henry S. Lagasca
San Fernando City, La Union (10 October) -- Senate foreign relations committee chair, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, said that after the committee's fifth and penultimate hearing this week, she is personally convinced that the proposed Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is "unconstitutional".
Along with Santiago, Sen. Mar Roxas, chair of the Senate trade and commerce committee, shared his view on the "unconstitutionality" of the economic partnership agreement but quick to add that they will recommend that it be renegotiated.
The Arroyo government has repeatedly said that the country's gain from the treaty could bring concessions that would allow the Philippines to supply Japan's rising demand for health workers considering Japan's aging population would require more foreign nurses and caregivers.
The agreement would also ensure market access for the country's agricultural products through free tariffs of major farm and fishery exports to Japan.
JPEPA was signed by President Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 9, 2006. The treaty requires concurrence of the Senate. Unless the treaty is ratified by the Senate by a two-thirds vote, the JPEPA cannot take effect.
As explained by legal experts during the committee hearings and even presented position papers before the Senate, the agreement violated constitutional safeguards on national patrimony.
That the JPEPA violated the Constitution because it gave the Japanese the right to exploit the country's marine resources and it also gave the Japanese businesses the right to own land.
At this point, the Senate must consider the country's gains from the treaty and must show its support by making "healthy corrections" on the legal infirmities of the treaty. Anyway, part of its recommendation is for a renegotiated JPEPA.
The treaty's constitutionality is a fundamental priority and that the Senate is also morally obliged, in aid of legislation, to plug inadvertently legal loopholes on laws which pertains to a national development policy to be formed in the future. (PIA Region 1) [top]