Commentary: Environmentalists' concern on JPEPA baseless, says Palace
By Renee R. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (31 October) -- The Japan-Philippine Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed on September 9 in Helsinki by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is feared by environmentalists to open the Philippines as dump for toxic waste of Japan.
The alarmed environmentalists and nationalist trade advocates raised their fears that in exchange for export on nurses and caregivers, the Philippines is allowing the entry of toxic and hazardous waste under the JPEPA.
The concerned groups looked at the deal with Japan as simply an elaborate exchange of health care for health waste, hence, they are now scrambling to convince the Philippine Senate, the country's ratifying body to reject the JPEPA when it is transmitted to Congress.
In the briefing paper however, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, it stressed that no provision in the JPEPA explicitly allowed the trade of banned items or liberalized entry of regulated products.
Malacaņang also said, that concerns and fears regarding the JPEPA provisions are unfounded as both the Philippines and Japan are committed to respect each other's sovereign rights and interests. Both countries are bound by the pertinent international conventions in the disposal of toxic waste and the Government will never allow entry of toxic waste into the Philippine soil under any circumstances. The existing laws and the government shall uphold them unconditionally.
The Administration is confident that the agreement will pass the test of national interest and welfare when the Senate gets to review and scrutinize it.
Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Santiago, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations also shrugged off the fears of the environmentalists stressing that the JPEPA followed the standard template of trade agreement that Japan had with members of the Overseas Economic Cooperation for Development, the organization of rich countries.
She also said that the World Trade Organization rules on free trade agreements included "substantially all trade."
The pact described by trade experts as a mega-treaty covers 11,300 tariff lines or commodities took three years for both countries to negotiate and could set the tone for future bilateral agreements. (PIA La Union) [top]