The NO DEAL! Movement today said that the Supreme Court (SC) decision upholding the secrecy of the negotiations on the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will set a dangerous precedent on future economic pacts that the Philippines will enter into.
In effect, the SC is legitimizing the marginalization of ordinary Filipinos from having access to pertinent information on economic treaties such as the JPEPA that will have a deep impact on their interest and livelihood, said the anti-JPEPA coalition.
This will embolden the executive branch to enter into more trade and investment agreements and make commitments without due regard to their harsh effects on various sectors, especially the poor and marginalized. Trends indicate that bilateral trade and investment agreements are on the rise in recent years, with the Philippines having pending negotiations with the European Union (UN), the US, China and others aside from its economic deal with Japan.
The coalition also hit executive secretary Eduardo Ermita’s statement that international agreements “should be handled with care” and with “confidentiality”. These diplomatic concerns should be secondary only with the paramount concerns of the people about their interest and livelihood and of the country’s national patrimony and sovereignty. It added that public access to information on economic treaties under negotiations is indispensable to protect the public and national interests.
But the SC ruling undermined the fundamental right of the people to know the “compromises” that the executive department is making on their behalf. Many of the questionable and controversial provisions of the JPEPA stemmed precisely from the lack of transparency and prior consultation with the concerned sectors, the coalition noted.
The NO DEAL! Movement has been lobbying the Senate to reject the JPEPA because of its negative effects on the country’s long-term economic development and sovereignty; livelihood of Filipino workers, fishers and farmers; violation of the Constitution; and disastrous environmental impact. The coalition added that the supposed benefits of the JPEPA such as increased access of Filipino nurses and health workers as well as commodity exports to the Japanese market are over-hyped claims to justify the indefensible treaty.