Thursday, November 09, 2006


Overseas Filipinos have come together and signed an on-line petition that expresses their concern for the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which allows the entry into the country of various waste products, including toxic waste, from Japan in exchange for paving the way for the entry into Japan of Filipino health care professionals.

The JPEPA was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 9 on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Helsinki, Finland. It covers 11,300 tariff lines for commodities and services and sought to mandate zero tariff on waste and other materials considered toxic and hazardous under both Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act, and the Basel Convention.

An earlier e-mail from overseas Filipino (OF) Cesar Torres said the agreement was signed “away from the glare of the media, and without the knowledge, scrutiny, and participation of the Filipino people.”

“Up to the last few days leading up to the signing of the JPEPA, the DTI refused to reveal the full text of the agreement to Congress, despite the earlier promises of Trade Undersecretary Tomas Aquino to provide a copy of the latest draft legal text of the agreement once the negotiations are completed and as soon as a thorough legal review of the proposed agreement has been conducted. It was only when the DTI was threatened with the revocation of its budget that it made moves to provide Congress with copies of the JPEPA. But even then, the offer came too late.”

According to Senator Mar Roxas, Arroyo signed the agreement without consultation and Roxas said that when he left the Cabinet as trade secretary before the 2004 elections, the JPEPA was a “mere” general agreement on economic cooperation.

Last week Torres and fellow OF in Germany Rogelio Bantiles wrote out the plea to the President of the Philippines, to the Senate of the Philippines, and to the Japanese Government.

Germany-based OF Shiela Bantiles Zangl, the very first signatory of the petition, said “only if the last tree has been cut down, the last river contaminated, the last breeze polluted, would we humans realize that we cannot eat money. I hope, we will wake up before these things happen. Stop soiling the Philippines.”

The second signatory, OF Johnny Pecayo from Beverly Hills, California, USA, said “we cannot move forward if we are carrying a heavy baggage detrimental to our health.”

To all this, Torres said the signatories “come from all over the world. Scanning the names and the places where they come from, one is glad that we are indeed connected to each other in the World Wide Web -- for the good of mankind and the Philippines.”

“Now, let us see what our leaders and guardians in the Philippines will do,” Torres said.

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