Saturday, 8 March 2008

TUCP wants Senate to ratify JPEPA

Bernard U. Allauigan

The Senate has been asked to ratify "as soon as possible" the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) "in order not to keep the labor sector waiting longer for the opening up of a new market for Filipino workers," the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) yesterday said.

But they also said that they would have to ask for P2 billion "safety net" from the government for the workers who might be displaced by the freer entry of manufactured and other goods from Japan.

The TUCP gave its support to JPEPA after a "cost-benefit analysis," saying the country "stood to gain more" on the deal.

"We reckon that the potential economic gains outweigh the implied losses," the group’s spokesperson, Alex Aguilar, said.

By approving the bilateral trade agreement, "more investments from Japan could mean bigger employment opportunities for Filipino workers due to the setting up of more joint venture enterprises in the country utilizing skilled labor and local agricultural and mineral products," Mr. Aguilar, said in a statement.

"Trade between the Philippines and Japan could improve further with the lowering of tariff barriers allowing entry of commodities from both sides," said Mr. Aguilar.

The group added that approving the deal would help the agricultural sector in the country as this would "open more agricultural production for export to Japan [and] providing more jobs, especially in the countryside."

Several other groups have already called on the Senate to immediately ratify the deal, including the Semi-conductors and Electronics Industries of the Philippines and the Green Movement for National Progress, among others.

But the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) has reservations, saying the deal is "unconstitutional" in its present form and that an amendment would be likely the answer for its ratification.

The Phil. Nurses Association, for its part, also opposed the approval of the treaty as Filipino nurses would be given "second class treatment" in Japan.

The Senate is yet to conduct a conditional concurrence on the treaty to look into its constitutionality before ratifying it.

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