Press Release
October 25, 2006

Cayetano: JPEPA to face rough sailing in the Senate

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today vowed that the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) "would go through the eye of the needle" once it is transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, following news reports confirming that the controversial pact will open the floodgates to hazardous and toxic wastes from Japan.

Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the entire agreement would have to be carefully scrutinizedparticularly Article 29 which outlines the types of "originating goods" that could be traded between the two parties.

Among those mentioned in the provision are articles "which are fit only for disposal," as well as scrap and waste from manufacturing or processing operations, and parts or raw materials "which can no longer perform their original purpose nor are capable of being repaired or restored."

She expressed grave concern that the supposed "goods" as described in Article 29 were only a euphemism for Japan's unwanted industrial, municipal and clinical waste, which the Philippines has disturbingly offered to host.

"I am supportive of government efforts to give our health workers access to the Japanese labor market, but I don't think trading this for the environment and the health of our own people should even be considered."

The senator first raised questions on the implications of the agreement during the Senate Committee on Finance's deliberations on the budgets of the DENR and DTI.

On both occasions, she was given the explanation by Secretary Angelo Reyes and Secretary Peter Favila that JPEPA would indeed allow waste from Japan, as long as it will observe the country's environmental laws and its commitment to international treaties like the Basel Convention of 1989.

"I gathered from both DENR and DTI that this arrangement to bring wastes into our country was acceptable, provided it will not violate any of our pertinent laws on waste management and hazardous wastes."

"I find this situation unacceptable, however, because we have not even fully implemented the provisions of RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) despite its passage into law almost six years ago. We cannot even manage our own garbage, so how can we take responsibility for the wastes of other countries?"

She said even the more advanced countries have been having problems dealing with their own industrial wastes even if they have far better technologies at their disposal.

"As far as I'm concerned, any extra time, effort and resources that we have in waste management should be devoted to managing our own garbage, rather than other people's garbage."

Cayetano urged the Executive Branch to immediately transmit the ratifying documents to the Senatealong with the attached commitments of both state signatoriesfor the chamber's scrutiny and its subsequent concurrence or rejection, in line with the requirements of the 1987 Constitution.

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