10 April 2008, Quezon City - Two weeks before the scheduled release of the committee report on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), members of the church, the academe, and more than 25 civil society organizations gathered at the University of the Philippines-Diliman to discuss their plans towards an escalation of actions against the JPEPA.
The groups present are members and supporters of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC), broad coalition that has, for two years, vigorously exposed the lopsided and unconstitutional features of the treaty and campaigned against its ratification by the Senate at the public hearings and various protest assemblies.
“We continue to closely monitor each and every Senator’s move on the JPEPA. Giving away of Philippine land, allowing discriminatory treatment for Filipino nurses, formalizing trade and dumping of toxic waste, and opening up our seas to foreigners, these are very serious violations of law. A senator who says yes to these provisions must be held accountable, together with the Chief Executive of this country who consistently bargains away the freedom, resources, and sovereignty of this country,” expressed Golda Benjamin, lead counsel of the Coalition.
JPEPA opponents also raised their concern as regards some senators’ proposal for a conditional concurrence on the treaty.
“Some senators are supposedly working to “fix” the problems in the JPEPA. However, members of the negotiating team keep on saying that this is an all-or-nothing deal that cannot be renegotiated. If the Executive Branch is doing nothing to fix the JPEPA, why are the Senators now trying to clean up the mess of the Executive Branch when their power is simply to approve or reject the treaty?” asked Marie Marciano, representative of the EcoWaste Coalition, a member group of the MJJC.
The participants, mostly coming from sectors that will be adversely impacted by JPEPA, signed an open letter to the Senators warning them that ratifying JPEPA in the midst of major corruption scandals will not go unnoticed.
“With the NBN-ZTE now in the public mind, with the concession of the Spratlys nipping at its heel, the ratification of the JPEPA will be a greater bitter poison for the public to stomach. The ramifications are even graver with JPEPA since it is more than just a business deal. The treaty if ratified becomes a law of the land. If the Senate does ratify it, the question becomes who are watching the watchers?” their letter to the Senators said.
“The Arroyo administration is marked with a litany of anomalous agreements entered into at great cost and detriment to the Filipino people. The year 2010 is not far away. We, the Filipino people will remember and distinguish the traitors from the patriotic,” they stated.
The MJJC has revealed its plan to strengthen their campaign and to continue its information drives all over the country. The Coalition is also prepared to support legal actions before the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
Among the MJJC partner groups are the Alliance of Progressive Labor, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines - Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, EcoWaste Coalition, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya, Kilusang Mangingisda, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, Philippine Nurses Association and the Task Force Food Sovereignty.