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CONSTITUTIONAL’ JPEPA A HOLLOW VICTORY

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will still be against the best interests of Filipinos and the economy even if Japan accepts the Senate’s proposed “side deal” or any similar legal maneuver to make the JPEPA formally constitutional.

The changes to JPEPA proposed by the Senate still do not transform the deal into a genuine economic partnership agreement that recognizes the vast inequalities between the two countries and takes genuine measures to develop the Philippines.

The “side deal” merely aims to align the JPEPA with the nationalist economic provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It does notsignify a real shift in the country’s economic strategies and merely asserts what is already formally contained in the charter. Unfortunately these potentially important provisions have in practice not been able to hinder the unprecedented implementation of “free market” policies of so-called “globalization” in the country and, indeed, have been observed more in the breach.

The “side deal” falls far short of transforming JPEPA into a truly developmental deal for the Philippines. Such a deal would begin from recognizing the vast inequality between advanced Japan and backward Philippines. It would also acknowledge that Japan has become highly developed in part from decades of taking advantage of cheap Filipino laborand natural resources as well as from access to the domestic market.

On these premises, a genuine partnership deal would have Japan in solidarity with the Philippines and giving real support for its development. Among others this means the Philippines having open access to Japan while still retaining its trade and investment protections, the Philippines maintaining its control over and capacity to regulate the domestic economy, and Japan providing untied financial aid and technical assistance that the Philippines can freely use according to its development priorities.

Introducing reservations/exceptions for future/existing investment measures and introducing the possibility of changing tariff schedule commitments, as the Senate proposed for “conditional concurrence” previously, are only part of this.

The JPEPA signed by the government on the contrary is unequal, defeatist and destructive and will remain so even with the “side deal”. The only acceptable deal for the Philippines is one based on the principles of
solidarity, mutual benefit and development.

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:28:00 02/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — An independent member of the House of Representatives has filed a bill seeking a snap presidential election on May 26 amid mounting protests against the Arroyo administration in light of allegations of corruption in the national broadband network deal (NBN) and other scandals.

Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson filed the bill on Monday in an attempt to being closure “to the many accusations being hurled against the administration.”

Under Joson’s bill, the election will only be for president, with the winner to serve out only the remainder of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term until June 30, 2010 and be ineligible for reelection.

The bill appropriates P2 billion for the proposed polls.

“The truth hounds. The truth haunts and the truth hurts. This is the primary objective of this proposal: To prevent danger and harm to our people precisely because in the search for truth and justice, someone will get hurt in the process,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“[It] will be ironic and a tragedy if our people will be the victims of such search for truth and justice,” Joson added.

Joson pointed out that a snap election was held in 1986 to find out whether the dictator Ferdinand Marcos still had the trust and confidence of the people.

“A new mandate was necessary at the time to preempt growing opposition to his rule and the consensus at the time was that he could still win if elections were held then. The allegations of mis-governance were the same then and now,” Joson said.

Section Two of Joson’s bill says that if passed, the law will be deemed as “a political question based on historical precedent.”

“[This] could ultimately be decided only by the members of [Congress] as the duly elected representatives of the people in the first instance and by the people as the repository of sovereign authority,” the bill says.

SC orders stop to ‘frivolous’ recount of Pampanga votes

By Leila Salaverria, Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — If Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio had reason to cheer, it was because, he said, God listened to his plea.

The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections to stop its planned recount of votes in the 2007 Pampanga gubernatorial elections, and directed the Comelec to maintain the status quo while the court deliberates on Panlilio’s petition to nullify the recount.

The high court also ordered the Comelec and Pineda to file within 10 days their comments to Panlilio’s petition.

Panlilio has said Pineda’s electoral protest was a “sham” and not based on any clear proof of cheating.

Pineda lost by 1,147 votes to Panlilio, a Catholic priest.

“We are very happy. God has answered our prayers,” Panlilio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

Panlilio’s lawyers said they were grateful to the Supreme Court for its swift action on their client’s petition. They assailed the Comelec orders allowing the recount to proceed.

The lawyers included Romulo Macalintal, Leila de Lima, Pete Quadra, Sixto Brillantes and Ernesto Francisco Jr.

‘Frivolous’ protest

“We are confident that in the end, we could prove that the protest is without basis and merely intended to harass Panlilio,” the lawyers said in a statement.

In his petition, Panlilio said the frivolity of Pineda’s protest “is demonstrated by the fact that private respondent is contesting all the precincts in all the municipalities and cities in Pampanga (except Angeles City) and she even identified a total of 4,836 precincts in (her) petition.”

“If true, this means that (Pineda) is claiming that she was cheated in all these 4,836 precincts without any objection from her watchers or without questioning before the Board of Election Inspectors … which is a very incredible and unbelievable claim indeed.”

Comelec order

In a July 2007 directive, the Comelec’s second division ordered a recount of ballots pursuant to Pineda’s protest and later denied Panlilio’s motion for a reconsideration.

It also rejected Panlilio’s motion to elevate the issue to the Comelec en banc.

“Aside from being merely copied from other existing election protests, the grounds are bare, general and scattered and intended merely to fish for evidence during the recount of ballots,” Panlilio’s lawyers said.

Half a million votes

The lawyers said Pineda’s claim that ballots from about 4,500 precincts, totaling some 500,000, were written by one or two persons “is incredible since not a single ballot was objected to by Pineda when they were counted at the precinct level.”

“Also, how could Panlilio, who merely relied on volunteers and contributions from concerned citizens of Pampanga, be guilty of vote buying? Surely the protest is baseless,” they added.

Pineda lawyer George Irwin Garcia said he had yet to receive a copy of the high court’s order but if true, “we cannot do anything but obey.”

Be sober

Pineda could not be reached for comment. She went to the United States two weeks ago.

She had claimed that Panlilio and his supporters committed various forms of election fraud.

Provincial election supervisor Temie Lambino said he had yet to receive a copy of the SC order.

Lambino previously set a meeting for Thursday to decide whether to proceed with the inventory and transfer of contested ballot boxes to Manila.

Panlilio on Tuesday asked his supporters after a Mass to “be sober” and not to hold protests at the Comelec.

JPEPA UNDERMINES RP CONSTITUTION, SHUTS DOOR TO REAL ECONOMIC DEV’T

The Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) violates provisions of the 1987 Constitution which are vital to the country’s future economic development, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

The JPEPA directly undermines the intent of the Constitutional mandate to promote the “preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally-produced goods”, IBON research head Sonny Africa said. The JPEPA’s various provisions on National Treatment in Articles 17 (goods), 73 (services), 89 (investment), 131 (government procurement) prevent the Philippines from actively supporting Filipino producers.

The JPEPA moreover severely restricts the country to pass laws setting economic policy by prohibiting performance requirements. This effectively prevents Congress from enacting laws that ensure that the country benefits from Japanese investments.

Africa pointed out that under the Agreement, the country would be prohibited from enacting local content requirements, local labor requirements and technology transfer provisions.

The JPEPA’s provisions on taxation expropriation also lay the groundwork for legal challenges to future tax measures, effectively protecting the profits of Japanese corporations at the expense of the country’s right to tax all economic activity within its jurisdiction.

The country’s past experience with free trade validates the wisdom of such economic protections guaranteed in the Constitution, Africa said. Trade as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) has doubled from in recent years. Over that same period, foreign investment quadrupled as a share of GDP, from 4% to some 15 percent. And yet joblessness has soared to historic highs with unemployment rates of 11% and some 11 million Filipinos either jobless or looking for more work. The share of domestic manufacturing to GDP has continued to fall to 23%, as has employment in the sector to 9%, while agricultural deficits have been high and rising since the mid-1990s.

According to Africa , the provisions in the Philippine Constitution are based on solid historical experience of countries that have reached any kind of industrial or agricultural development, including Japan itself. But the JPEPA enshrines a defeatist policy-making and in doing so violates the 1987 Constitution’s vital economic provisions.

As the Senate holds its final hearing on the JPEPA today, IBON urges the senators to consider the Agreement’s future impact on the country’s economic development. The free-trade pact, if ratified, would shut the door to any real industrial development and modernization.

Business, Ramos, Enrile, Ermita on Estrada verdict

Inquirer
Last updated 02:50am (Mla time) 09/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The business community will be disappointed if Joseph Estrada is acquitted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder, a securities analyst said Wednesday.

 

But it will also be disappointed if the ousted President is convicted and subsequently pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Astro del Castillo, a director of the Association of Securities Analysts of the Philippines.

 

“It’s the right opportunity to create a model to go after grafters,” Del Castillo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

 

“Reconciliation will always be there. But we have a long list of pardoned criminals and a short list of big fish who are punished for wrongdoing,” he said.

 

According to Del Castillo, the business community expects a verdict of conviction and corresponding punishment for Estrada, who is under house arrest at his vacation estate in Tanay, Rizal.

 

“Confidence will be affected,” he said of the prospect of an acquittal or a pardon.

 

Nonetheless, the business community is focused on the economic fundamentals and will be unnerved only if the security situation deteriorates as a result of the Sandiganbayan decision, whatever it may be, Del Castillo said.

 

No choice

 

In Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s opinion, Estrada has no choice but to accept a presidential pardon should the anti-graft court convict him of plunder.

 

A pardon is not for Estrada to reject because when the President grants it, she can immediately pull out the guards from his vacation estate, according to Enrile.

 

The senator expressed doubt that a verdict of acquittal would again raise questions on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration.

 

He pointed out that Estrada’s term had already run its course and that Ms Arroyo was serving a new term. Thus, he said, there was no reason for Ms Arroyo to be insecure about her term.

 

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the ousted President’s eldest son, said there was no reason for Ms Arroyo to fear any payback from his father should the verdict be an acquittal.

 

“We are only out to clear our father’s name; we have no other agenda,” the younger Estrada said.

 

On the other hand, former President Fidel Ramos told the Inquirer on Tuesday that all talk about a pardon for Estrada in case of a conviction was premature.

 

SWS survey

 

He said government officials should wait for the court’s verdict before making such an offer.

 

Ramos shook his head at the mention of the recent Social Weather Stations survey showing that most residents of Mega Manila were in favor of a pardon for Estrada.

 

“You wait for the court,” he stressed.

 

‘Consider the people’

 

At a press conference in Malacañang, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Sandiganbayan’s verdict could be used by certain quarters to sow chaos and instability, and that it was up to Estrada to ease the tense political atmosphere.

 

Ermita also called on the public to remain calm, and for Estrada partisans to observe the rule of law.

 

“As a good citizen and especially as a public official, all I can say is if my advice is sought [by Estrada] — and for that matter, I’m saying it right now — the best option would be really to consider the conditions of the greater majority of our people,” Ermita said.

 

Asked whether he would advise Estrada to “shun any offer to do an EDSA IV after his verdict,” Ermita said:

 

“Let’s not think of things that would destabilize ourselves because, of course, economic progress can only happen in a stable political environment. Anything that will cause destabilization even in the minds of our people should be avoided.”

 

Ermita said he expected Estrada to be “a responsible citizen.”

 

“Considering that he was President, and knowing him, I think he knows what’s good for our people…” the executive secretary said.

 

‘He knows better’

 

Ermita said he could not offer anything in exchange for Estrada’s cooperation in suppressing street protests.

 

“The former President is definitely much better than I am. He became President, I’m only where I am, so I don’t think that I can advise him on anything. He definitely knows better than what I might know, as far as his conduct is concerned,” Ermita said, adding:

 

“But I know that the reason he’s popular is that as a political leader, he wants the welfare of the majority of our people, rather than just personal ends, to be [paramount]. To that extent, I think former President Estrada would know how to conduct himself, especially in light of all these rumors of what might happen as a result of the verdict, whatever the verdict might be.”

 

‘Exchange of views’

 

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales on Tuesday said that he had a lunch meeting last week with Estrada but that it was a mere “exchange of views.”

 

Also on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Ms Arroyo’s newly appointed political adviser, said a pardon for Estrada in the event of a conviction was not farfetched. Reports from Norman Bordadora, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Cynthia D. Balana and Michael Lim Ubac

Business, Ramos, Enrile, Ermita on Estrada verdict

Inquirer
Last updated 02:50am (Mla time) 09/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The business community will be disappointed if Joseph Estrada is acquitted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder, a securities analyst said Wednesday.

 

But it will also be disappointed if the ousted President is convicted and subsequently pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Astro del Castillo, a director of the Association of Securities Analysts of the Philippines.

 

“It’s the right opportunity to create a model to go after grafters,” Del Castillo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

 

“Reconciliation will always be there. But we have a long list of pardoned criminals and a short list of big fish who are punished for wrongdoing,” he said.

 

According to Del Castillo, the business community expects a verdict of conviction and corresponding punishment for Estrada, who is under house arrest at his vacation estate in Tanay, Rizal.

 

“Confidence will be affected,” he said of the prospect of an acquittal or a pardon.

 

Nonetheless, the business community is focused on the economic fundamentals and will be unnerved only if the security situation deteriorates as a result of the Sandiganbayan decision, whatever it may be, Del Castillo said.

 

No choice

 

In Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s opinion, Estrada has no choice but to accept a presidential pardon should the anti-graft court convict him of plunder.

 

A pardon is not for Estrada to reject because when the President grants it, she can immediately pull out the guards from his vacation estate, according to Enrile.

 

The senator expressed doubt that a verdict of acquittal would again raise questions on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration.

 

He pointed out that Estrada’s term had already run its course and that Ms Arroyo was serving a new term. Thus, he said, there was no reason for Ms Arroyo to be insecure about her term.

 

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the ousted President’s eldest son, said there was no reason for Ms Arroyo to fear any payback from his father should the verdict be an acquittal.

 

“We are only out to clear our father’s name; we have no other agenda,” the younger Estrada said.

 

On the other hand, former President Fidel Ramos told the Inquirer on Tuesday that all talk about a pardon for Estrada in case of a conviction was premature.

 

SWS survey

 

He said government officials should wait for the court’s verdict before making such an offer.

 

Ramos shook his head at the mention of the recent Social Weather Stations survey showing that most residents of Mega Manila were in favor of a pardon for Estrada.

 

“You wait for the court,” he stressed.

 

‘Consider the people’

 

At a press conference in Malacañang, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Sandiganbayan’s verdict could be used by certain quarters to sow chaos and instability, and that it was up to Estrada to ease the tense political atmosphere.

 

Ermita also called on the public to remain calm, and for Estrada partisans to observe the rule of law.

 

“As a good citizen and especially as a public official, all I can say is if my advice is sought [by Estrada] — and for that matter, I’m saying it right now — the best option would be really to consider the conditions of the greater majority of our people,” Ermita said.

 

Asked whether he would advise Estrada to “shun any offer to do an EDSA IV after his verdict,” Ermita said:

 

“Let’s not think of things that would destabilize ourselves because, of course, economic progress can only happen in a stable political environment. Anything that will cause destabilization even in the minds of our people should be avoided.”

 

Ermita said he expected Estrada to be “a responsible citizen.”

 

“Considering that he was President, and knowing him, I think he knows what’s good for our people…” the executive secretary said.

 

‘He knows better’

 

Ermita said he could not offer anything in exchange for Estrada’s cooperation in suppressing street protests.

 

“The former President is definitely much better than I am. He became President, I’m only where I am, so I don’t think that I can advise him on anything. He definitely knows better than what I might know, as far as his conduct is concerned,” Ermita said, adding:

 

“But I know that the reason he’s popular is that as a political leader, he wants the welfare of the majority of our people, rather than just personal ends, to be [paramount]. To that extent, I think former President Estrada would know how to conduct himself, especially in light of all these rumors of what might happen as a result of the verdict, whatever the verdict might be.”

 

‘Exchange of views’

 

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales on Tuesday said that he had a lunch meeting last week with Estrada but that it was a mere “exchange of views.”

 

Also on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Ms Arroyo’s newly appointed political adviser, said a pardon for Estrada in the event of a conviction was not farfetched. Reports from Norman Bordadora, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Cynthia D. Balana and Michael Lim Ubac