NEPA Statement on Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)
(Distributed during Magkaisa–Junk JPEPA press conference in Quezon City on November 6, 2006)
THE National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) views the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as another Japanese invasion of the Philippines, proof our people are completely unprotected against economic policies and practices that mire us ever deeper in indebtedness, starvation and collective destitution. The process leading to the signing of JPEPA has shown that officials claiming to negotiate for us the best possible terms for external relations have become shameless defectors eagerly helping in the forging of cruel chains to bind us and our posterity to ever greater woes. We are currently working with many other organizations to issue a detailed position paper on the general and specific comments on this voluminous JPEPA document, but this early we are already aware of dire consequences on our environment, on our agriculture and fisheries, on our industries and labor. JPEPA is bad for business, bad for Filipino enterprises!
JPEPA has been imposed jointly by the governments of Japan and the Philippines upon the people who have not been given the opportunity as stakeholders to study its text and air our comments on its provisions before its signing, a process that brings to mind the habits of monarchy. On the part of Japan, it has made a move to advance its interests through bilateral talks. In contrast to multilateral negotiations where the underdeveloped and poor countries are able to team up in asserting their common concerns, leading even to deadlocks in two successive conferences of the World Trade Organization, bilateral talks are opportunities for plain and simple bullying. On the part of the Philippine government, it is plain and simple collaboration with Japan, without even wearing a bayong!
NEPA joins the Magkaisa—Junk JPEPA! in appealing to the members of the Philippine Senate to assert their collective right to scrutinize the full text of JPEPA, with the invaluable aid of public hearings to take full account of the concerns of the various sectors of direct and indirect stakeholders among our people. With its extensively consequential provisions JPEPA can never be validly claimed, much less validly implemented, as a mere executive agreement that avoids Senate scrutiny. It is no less than a treaty that needs to be ratified or rejected by the Senate of the Philippines.
In its 72-year history, NEPA has consistently championed the cause of promoting and protecting the Philippine economy of the Filipinos. Considering the globalization-dictated dismantling of protective tariff systems in the several years, NEPA has more consciously sought the active participation of the people in general, as stakeholders and as actual and potential entrepreneurs. Through our tangkilikán, which is a revival of our rich bayanihan heritage, the people themselves will provide together the desired progress and the needed protection from within. Thistangkilikán includes raising our collective voice to protect the legitimate interests of all the sectors Filipino people against such impositions as JPEPA.