Press Release
February 22, 2023


I wish to explain my NO vote to the Senate concurrence to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Una po, hindi po ako kumbinsido na di natin pinapahamak ang kalusugan ng ating mamamayan. I am not persuaded that the health and security exception sufficiently protects our citizens from the onslaught of tobacco and formula milk advertisements. Kahit may batas pa tayo na pinagbabawal ang tobacco advertisements, paano nga kung hamunin tayo for non-compliance with RCEP? I note that various EU countries in their liberalization of advertising services in the WTO also explicitly excluded tobacco advertising, even though they could have used the health and security exemptions cited by our resource persons. Hindi natin ito ginawa, and I worry that the consequences may be grave and inter-generational.

Pangalawa po, paumanhin po, ako po'y hindi kumbinsido na makakabuti sa Pilipinas ang RCEP. I am persuaded by the study of Rashmi Banga which found that the Philippines goods trade balance would worsen by US$ 264 million/year and it would lose tariff revenues of US$ 58 million/year. Nahihirapan po ako suportahan ang findings ni Dr. Cororaton, which were obtained using a methodology called Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) modeling which has already been discredited for its unrealistic assumptions.

Panghuli po at pinakamahalaga, at sana ito po ang pinakapakinggan pa rin ng ating mga kasama. I have with me a letter of 131 organizations from various groups around the country. Mga grupo ng magsasaka, mga grupo ng mangingisda, mga trade union, mga health advocates, mga fair trade advocates. These represent millions of Filipinos who say that our country is not ready for this deal, that we already obtain the benefits from our other agreements, and that we even stand to lose.

The calculations for me are simple, Mr. President. Dapa na po ang ating agrikultura. Hindi pa tayo nakakaahon sa pandemya. This is not the time for RCEP.

I vote no. Salamat po.

News Latest News Feed