THE UST Social Research Center (SRC) appealed to senators to deny the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that seeks to remove barriers to investments and the trade of goods and services between the two countries, in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce last Nov. 27.

JPEPA is a trade treaty between Japan and the Philippines signed by President Macapagal-Arroyo and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Helsinki, Finland last Sept. 9 that could boost job opportunities for Filipino health-care professionals in Japan.

There are, however, provisions in JPEPA that SRC director Ernesto Gonzales said would permit Japan to dump their hospital, chemical, and electronic wastes in the country as long as they are recyclables.

“Japan should dig their hole in their homeland and flush their own waste into their industrial toilets,” Gonzales told Senators Mar Roxas, Pia Cayetano, and Jamby Madrigal, who headed the hearing. “The Senate should have more brilliant ideas than JPEPA’s ratification.”

Gonzales said that the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Institute for Development Studies’ explanation of the JPEPA failed to account for the environmental degradation it might cause.

He also cited research studies from renowned economists like Sixto Roxas that question current economic policies in the country upon which JPEPA was based. Moreover, Gonzales emphasized the importance of ecology in the economy, which he said is neglected by the government and the JPEPA.

Last Nov. 9, SRC and several environmental advocacy groups such as Partido Kalikasan, Lingkod Tao-Kalikasan, and the UST Artlets Economics Society pledged to strengthen their campaign against the treaty.

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“It is SRC’s duty as a research center of the University to take part in the information campaign through our researches that could help in the better understanding of JPEPA,” Gonzales told the Varsitarian.

“But I have yet to clear with UST authorities on how far the SRC wants to go about the issue.”

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