Magkaisa Junk JPEPA: Knockout Japan pact , Claims 5-0 scorecard in favor of opponents

5-0 Knockout - Photo by Gigie Cruz/GAIAMagkaisa Junk JPEPA, a coalition of NGOs and mass movements, today pressed anew for the junking of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, calling the agreement constitutionally and legally toxic.

In a mock boxing match, an oversized JPEPA is shown being knocked out by a determined Inang Bayan, symbolizing the people’s victory over the controversial economic argreement. A crowd of some 2,000 automotive workers, urban poor, and civil society groups was there to bear witness to the event.The group stressed that in the five face-offs between the government panel and the coalition’s organizations in Senate hearings, the government has failed miserably in defending the economic pact with Japan. Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition stressed that “after five rounds of defeat, the JPEPA must be unanimously knocked out.”

“In spirit and in substance, JPEPA represents an insidious and patent violation of the 1987 Constitution and our laws. The only remedy to this anomaly is the immediate junking of the agreement,” Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition said.

The group said that the GMA administration abused its constitutional powers when it signed an agreement that clearly surrenders the sovereignty of the country to the Japanese. “If ratified, JPEPA would effectively subjugate the Philippine economy under the Japanese economy since it grants one-sided concessions to the other party,” the coalition said. “The government acted in violation of its mandate to represent the interest of the Filipino people and uphold the country’s sovereignty.”

Submission to JPEPA also means that the government would serve as an insurance company to Japanese investors, undermining both the integrity of the State and the sovereignty of the Filipino people. “Under Article 96 of JPEPA, the government is obliged to compensate Japanese investors should they incur losses from damages due to state of emergency such as revolution, insurrection, and civil disturbance, among others. This compromises the independence of the Philippine State and undermines the Filipino people’s exercise of their sovereign rights,” the coalition added, explaining that liberally construed, this provision actually attaches unfair and anomalous obligations to supreme acts of sovereign will such as popular uprisings.

The coalition also urged Senate to exercise its broad oversight powers and to correct the constitutional error committed by the government by rejecting the agreement.

“Lopsided provisions in JPEPA prove that the government has usurped powers that are accorded to Congress,” it said. “Articles 4, 18 and 20 of JPEPA, which commit the country to eliminate duties and taxes on goods imported from Japan and the repeal of laws that obstruct the implementation of the deal, abuse powers that are exclusively delegated to Congress by the Constitution.”

“The Constitution grants the power of taxation to Congress. This cannot be overturned simply by Japanese negotiators and Filipino officials conspiring against the future of the Philippines ,” the coalition said.

It likewise warned Senate against other constitutionally and legally onerous provisions in JPEPA.   “JPEPA goes against the constitutional mandate on the preferential use of Philippine products. What’s worse is that reciprocity under the deal is grossly uneven, with Japanese products substantially gaining greater access to Philippine market and Filipino products still facing stiff market barriers to enter Japan’s market,” the coalition said.

According to the coalition, JPEPA weakens the negotiating power of the Philippines vis-à-vis Japan and other WTO members. “On one hand, under the Most Favored Nation status in WTO, all concessions given by the Philippines to Japan would accrue to other WTO members. On the other hand, the non-discrimination clause in Article 132 of JPEPA compels the country to offer Japan greater concessions if the same concessions have been provided to other trading partners,” the coalition said. “This considerably weakens the power of the Philippine State to negotiate for trade deals that are truly beneficial to the country.”

Magkaisa Junk JPEPA implored the Senate to junk the deal. “Today is the last hearing of the Senate on an agreement whose anomalous nature has finally unraveled. There is no reason to believe that the government panel would still be able to sugar-coat a biased agreement. JPEPA must be rejected,” the coalition implored.

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