Press Release
July 30, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the government to negotiate with Tokyo for the lifting of the ban on Philippine filter-smoked tuna products to Japan.

Pimentel said the government should heed the appeal of tuna producers of Mindanao to allow them to regain access to the Japanese fish market.

The Japanese government has apparently blocked the entry of tuna from our country in spite of our fish producers compliance with internationally-recognized standards on the export of frozen tuna, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

Tuna exporters from Mindanao have requested the government to include the lifting of the ban on Philippine tuna products in the agenda of its renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement with Japan.

Pimentel said there is no valid ground for the continued ban since the tuna that the Philippines exports to Japan undergoes the same smoke-filter process as the tuna that is exported to the European Union and the United States.

Japans Department of Health and Welfare imposed the ban in 1997 on the ground that the smoking process poses health hazard. But the Japanese authorities could not provide scientific basis for its claim. The ban applies to production, sale and importation of smoked tuna products from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

Pimentel said the fish producers and processors in Mindanao are also complaining about the seeming lack of government interest in helping them expand their capacity to produce and supply tuna for domestic and foreign markets.

This is one concern that the administration should take up for the benefit of the tuna producers of Mindanao, he said.

Pimentel deplored that there was nothing in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos statement of the nation address about concrete measures to maximize Mindanao capacity to raise production of agriculture and fishery products.

She spoke of the so-called agricultural advantage of Mindanao by saying its land is very fertile and its seas abound with fish. And yet there was no amplification of her desire to beef up Mindanaos productive capacity for agricultural and marine products, he said.

Pimentel also said that while the President spoke about new mass transportation and airport projects in various parts of the archipelago, she failed to mention existing projects in Mindanao such as the long-overdue Mindanao Railroad Network and the Laguindingan International Airport in Misamis Oriental.

He said the Mindanao Railroad Network has been in the drawing board since the Aquino administration. In the case of the Laguindingan International Airport, he said the project has been suspended due to funding problems.

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