MANILA. Philippines- Members of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition called today on the senators to immediately quash the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) after the government panel defending it failed again to convince the senators for the fourth time in a series of hearings being conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Manny Calonzo of the Eco Waste Coalition of the Philippines said that given the dismal performance of the senior government panel defending the agreement in the Senate, the proper thing to do is to reject the preferential trade agreement at the committee level and urge the whole Senate to junk it.
“We fully support Senator Miriam Santiago in her suggestion to wish the JPEPA into oblivion. There is actually no more need for further hearings because the government simply cannot present solid benefits if we ratify JPEPA. We are simply prolonging the agony of the government,” said Calonzo.
According to Ronnel Lim, program officer of Health Care Without Harm, “The Executive should cut and cut cleanly, save whatever face is left of the Japanese and the Filipino negotiators and abandon the futile attempt to sell an atrociously bad agreement. Not only is the JPEPA bad for the environment with regard to waste importation, there is also no solid economic benefit that could be said to counterweight the grave damage to public health if the agreement is ratified. The health of the Filipino people should not be traded away to Japan for free.”
The Coalition also bewailed the fact that Japan gave markedly better terms to other countries in Southeast Asia. During the last hearing on the movement of natural persons, Leah Paquiz, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), pointed out that the Indonesian nurse is only required two years work experience while the Filipino nurse is required three years to qualify as a nursing trainee in Japan.
“We are the equal of our Japanese and Indonesian peers. Why is Japan treating us as inferior? Why did our negotiators allow this to happen? The JPEPA is extremely unacceptable in its discrimination against us Filipino nurses. We are professional nurses and yet the agreement will make us mere trainees in Japan,” said Paquiz.
Reacting to the comment by Ambassador Siazon that the initial sending of nurses is just an initial experiment on the provision of the JPEPA on the movement of natural persons, Dr Paquiz said “the nurses are not guinea pigs you can send abroad to satisfy your curiosity.”
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