Palace to review JPEPA on toxic wastes
Quezon City (26 October) -- A senior Malacañang official said Wednesday government would review provisions of the Japan-Philippines Economic and Political Agreement (JPEPA), particularly on an item supposedly allowing the entry of toxic wastes in the country.
In a news briefing, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he would ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to check on reports that a provision in the agreement seemed to have practically gave the green light to Japan to dump its toxic and hazardous substances in the country.
"We will review that," he told reporters when asked what Malacañang would do to address concerns raised by senators and environmental groups.
In the same news briefing, officials from the DFA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) insisted that JPEPA would not endanger the environment because there are enough safeguards outside of the agreement that protects the country from environmental risks.
DFA Executive Director Marlyn Aranilla said the country is protected from the entry of toxic wastes under Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substance and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act of 1990), which bans the importation of hazardous and toxic substances into the country.
Aranilla also pointed out that both the Philippines and Japan were signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal.
"The JPEPA serves as a joint declaration of the countries to respect one another’s domestic regulations (on the entry of toxic products)," she said.
DTI Director Ramon Kabigting said the contentious section was Article 29, which outlines the types of originating goods that could be traded between the two countries.
He said the Article allows for 11,300 products that could be traded between the Philippines and Japan. Of the figure, 141 are supposedly deemed to be "potentially harmful" and available for tariff reduction, and eventually, elimination.
Among the products allegedly included under Article 29 were articles "which are fit only for disposal," as well as scrap and waste from manufacturing or processing operations, and parts or raw materials "which can no longer perform their original purpose nor are capable of being repaired or restored."
In exchange for the reduced tariffs on the products, Kabigting said: "Japan would cooperate in preventing the export of such products from Japan to the Philippines…In JPEPA, it is Japan offering to help in the appropriate control or prevention of trade in hazardous waste." (PIA) [top]