Press Release
September 14, 2007

ROXAS TO GOV'T: SHOW 'BALANCE SHEET' OF JPEPA GAINS VS LOSSES BENEFITS PRESENTED SO FAR UNCLEAR, "UNDERWHELMING"

Senator Mar Roxas told the Department of Trade and Industry and other key government agencies to provide a clearer and more definitive presentation as to the benefits and detriments to the Philippines as a result of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

This, as government agencies have so far failed to impress Senators as to the benefits that could be achieved from the JPEPA, in their presentations before the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and on Trade and Commerce deliberating the said treaty.

"I am 'underwhelmed' by the presentation of the government that, to my estimate, kung ngayon ang botohan ay di papasa ang JPEPA," the Chairman of the Senate Trade Committee said.

He said that a clear and understandable "balance sheet" of what was gained versus what was given up must be shown, not only for the trade aspect but also as to the other elements of the treaty such as investments, labor, and environment. Sectors to be affected must be identified, and the necessary measures to mitigate the suffering of these sectors must be threshed-out.

"All negotiations are all about give and take, and it is the government's duty to make its case here. Since they negotiated the treaty, they ought to know the data and provide us with the big picture of this give-and-take," he said.

"Nais nating maunawaan talaga ito, kung ano ang benepisyo sa atin kumpara sa benepisyo na makukuha naman ng bansang Hapon. Marahil ay malinaw sa kabilang panig kung ano ang interes nila sa agreement na ito. Ano naman ang maliwanag na pambansang interes natin? Ito ang inaasahan naming masagot ng ating mga trade negotiators" Roxas explained.

Roxas said JPEPA was negotiated against the backdrop of the economic standing of Japan vis--vis the emergence of China as a dominant economic player in the region, as well as the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an economic bloc. Notwithstanding these contextual factors, Roxas stressed the need to look into JPEPA using the lens of national interest.

"Ang tanong ni Juan dela Cruz, 'ano ang nasa interes namin, at ang interes ba namin ay naproprotektahan ba dito sa ating pakikipag-negosasyon?' Dapat ang mangibabaw na interes dito ay yung sa atin, hindi ang interes ng Hapon, ng ASEAN, o ng iba't iba pang bansa," he said.

During the hearing, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, moved that the Trade and Commerce Committee be assigned as the secondary committee to deliberate the ratification of JPEPA.

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