04 August 2008

JPEPA spells death to environment and economy — green groups

Pasay City. Concerned civil society groups held a funeral march at the Philippine Senate last August 5 to symbolize death to the environment and economy with the ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Among the funeral cortege were members of the EcoWaste Coalition dressed in black, as well as women mourners covered in black veils. Pall bearers carried a white coffin behind which was a huge banner saying, “JPEPA: Toxic to the Environment and Economy”. The mood of the mock funeral was made even grimmer with traditional Philippine funeral music in the background, played live by a 12-man band.

The “black and green protest” by the public health and environmental justice groups serves as a sign of the continued rejection of the treaty by the different sectors in the light of the upcoming floor debates in the Senate. The sponsorship speech, expected to take place this week following circulation of the Committee Report and Senate Resolution seeking concurrence in the ratification of the JPEPA, also signals the commencement of the floor deliberations on the treaty.

“We’d like to remind the Senators that they are duty-bound to protect all aspects of Philippine life from unjust treaties like the JPEPA”, said Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, a partner of the multi-sectoral Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC). “We should not allow Japan to take us by a noose like a cow thinking it is being led to its fodder when, in reality, it is being prepared for slaughter. The Filipino people deserve nothing less than a just and beneficial deal that honors our sovereignty and respects our Constitution”, Calonzo added.

The Coalition reiterates that the issues on toxic and nuclear waste dumping remain unresolved despite the exchange of diplomatic notes signed by the Japanese and Philippine governments. A study published by the Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the EcoWaste Coalition slammed JPEPA for failing to protect the public health and the environment with the promotion and facilitation of trade involving a long list of toxic waste materials, including incinerator ash and numerous globally banned and restricted chemicals and substances.

Data gathered by the EcoWaste Coalition show that Japanese wastes have entered and continue to enter the country, sometimes disguised as recyclables or second hand goods.

“Majority of our Senators have expressed that they have reservations about this treaty—even they cannot deny that JPEPA is unjust, unconstitutional, and heavily biased toward Japan’s interests at the expense of Philippine sovereignty, economy, and environment. For our Senators to ratify such a treaty—with full knowledge of its terrible flaws—is beyond the limits of what is decent and right, and spells death to our dignity and aspirations as a nation,” said Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition and the MJJC.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition, Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Pasig Movement, and Zero Waste Philippines took part in the mock funeral
march and drama against JPEPA.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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