Sunday, October 07, 2007

The fast sinking JPEPA

The campaign in the Philippines against the JPEPA is going very very well and based on the pronouncements of the senators in the media, barring future upset, there's a good chance that the JPEPA will be rejected by the Philippine Senate.

The senior government representatives sent to the Senate are not doing well in defending the agreement. Most senators were not happy with the unpreparedness and the seeming unfamiliarity with the JPEPA text of the government panels deployed to defend the agreement.
During the first two hearings, the pro-JPEPA panel performed so dismally that the government had to summon Philippine ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon to help the pro-JPEPA panel. For the past two hearings Ambassador Siazon has been trying to defend the agreement, but he could only do so much because he is not really familiar with the agreement's provisions as he was not directly involved in the negotiations.

The Philippine government is going desperate by the day; even Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura has sought assurance from the Philippine government that it's doing everything it can to convince the senators to approve JPEPA. President Arroyo last week issued an order creating a special task force, which includes cabinet members and other senior government officials, just to defend the agreement.

Some senators who were pro-JPEPA before hearings began are now anti-JPEPA, like Senator Mar Roxas, a former Trade Secretary, and Senator Santiago, chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations. According to Senator Roxas, the JPEPA is in intensive care unit, waiting for the proper time to die. According to Senator Santiago, the government is not giving her enough arguments to enable her to defend the agreement in the Senate floor. In Senator Santiago's own words, she said, she "will go up in flames" if she were to defend the JPEPA in its present form,

In the scoreboard of the senators, all the hearings were won by the Junk JPEPA Coalition and the officials now are desperate to convince the senators and are going for a media campaign to recover their losses in the Senate. They have also gone twisting the truth in the media. One news report written by Alito Malinao of the Philippine News Agency even claimed that our contingent of nurses at the Senate hearing were pro-JPEPA and allegedly had a manifesto of support for the JPEPA when what the nurses were holding all those time was the statement of the Philippine Nurses Association against the JPEPA not a manifesto of support.

The opposition of the nurses is extremely damaging to the JPEPA. One senator said the senators are "flabbergasted " that the supposed nurse beneficiaries of the JPEPA are opposing it.