Press Release
April 23, 2008


Senator Chiz Escudero contends the procedure adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommending conditional concurrence on the ratification of the highly disputed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

He said the methodology the committee chose to take might be legally flawed, saying that a conditional ratification is already tantamount to a rejection of the treaty.

"Recommending a conditional ratification to my mind is an outright rejection. If this is the path we're taking, then we better say it so. It's either we accept the treaty or we reject it flatly".

Escudero doubts the legal validity of the conditional concurrence saying international laws, specifically the Vienna Convention of 1969 on the Law of Treaties do not recognize conditional ratification. If at all, Escudero said international laws provide that a reservation can be made before the treaty could be done.

Reservations are essentially caveats to a state's acceptance of a treaty. In effect, it allows the state to be a party to the treaty while excluding the legal effect of that specific provision in the treaty to which it objects.

Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, "a state, may, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, formulate a reservation unless: (a) the reservation is prohibited by the treaty and (b) the treaty provides that only specified reservations which do not include the reservation in question may be made" (Section 2, Article 19).

Under the JPEPA, no prohibition on reservation was provided under Article 94 of the agreement's General Provisions on Reservations.

"Why do a conditional ratification, which even the authors, admit is a first for the Philippine Senate when existing treaty and customary international law provide that we can ratify JPEPA subject to certain reservations"?

Escudero declared that he won't be signing the committee report for the simple reason that he disagrees with the legal procedure and methodology by which the recommendation was drawn in the Senate.

"I am not yet questioning the treaty itself, what I want to scrutinize is the process by which we adopt a stand in the Senate. If it's the first time that we will take a shot at conditional ratification, there is nothing extraordinary for anyone like me to cast doubts and question the legal raison d'être of this approach. This treaty will be our mirror in the international stage, States will be watching at how we treat international protocols and covenants. I think it is but prudent that we take actions in accordance with well settled practices under international law so as not to lose face and offend anyone".

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