Posted by: nupl | November 11, 2007

Guingona to lawyers: Fight Jpepa

September 16, 2007

Press Release

Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona Jr. has asked the country’s lawyers to join the fight against the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) which he compared to a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao.

Speaking before a jampacked crowd of more than 130 lawyers, paralegal workers and law students in connection with the founding congress of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the former vice-president said patriotic and pro-people lawyers should challenge the one-sided economic agreement and lend their legal skills and expertise to junk the agreement between the Philippines and Japan.

“I encourage all lawyers to include the fight against Jpepa in their fight for the human rights of Filipinos,” the former VP said.

The former VP said Jpepa unjustifiably seeks to grant national treatment to Japanese investments. Guingona cited Article 89 of the agreement which says that each party shall accord investors of the other party, and to their investments, treatment no less favorable than it accords, in like circumstances, to its own investors and to their investments with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, operation, maintenance, use, possession, liquidation, sale or other disposition of investments.

“What does national treatment mean? Does it ask that we regard the Japanese investor as we do to own our Filipinos? Does it connote parity, same as the parity we extended to US firms and citizens equal to Philippine firms and in the wake of rehabilitation in 1948?”, asked Guingona.

Guingona said national treatment means more under Jpepa. “It does not merely refer to equal- but also treatment no less than favorable than that we accord to Filipinos under like circumstances. The treatment can be equal, can be more favorable to the alien investor- but not less favorable.

Guingona said the national treatment provision of Jpepa will not apply in Japan where there hardly exists any Filipino businesses, but in the Philippines where Japanese investments abound. “As worded in Jpepa, national treatment would cover practically all areas of investment- from establishment, to operations, to sale, to liquidation,” he said

Guingona noted that while the Philippine government cited some limitations imposed by the 1987 Constitution, it did not reserve the country’s right to enact future legislation compared to Japan’s reservations which are extensive, covering national treatment, most favored national treatment, prohibition for performance requirements- and expressly made the reservation to adopt or maintain any measure relating to those areas.

“A treaty is intended to enhance the nation, not to derogate its power to govern. Ironically, Article 4 of Jpepa calls on the parties to consider amending or repealing laws that affect the implementation and operation of said agreement. We cannot and should not give up this inherent right to fight for the Filipino people. Even the powers of local government units are affected, because one year after the approval of Jpepa, they will be restrained from enacting ordinances concerning Japanese investments,” Guingona stressed.

The NUPL secretary general Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares said lawyers of the association will definitely join the people’s fight against Jpepa. The lawyers’ group said one of its plans is to lend its legal services to various interest groups who will question Jpepa before the Senate and the Supreme Court.

“The lawyers of NUPL will join the people in opposing this one-sided agreement in the halls of Senate, in the Supreme Court, in the bar of public opinion and in the parliament of the streets,” Colmenares said.

According to Colmenares, an NUPL resolution calling for the junking of Jpepa and the mobilization of all lawyers of NUPL to lend legal skills and expertise to amplify the people’s opposition to Jpepa will be signed and passed by more than 150 lawyers, paralegal workers and law students.

“The NUPL is committed to oppose and fight the government’s surrender of national sovereignty to Japanese transnational corporations through Jpepa. We will lend our legal skills and services for our clients engaged in the patriotic war against Jpepa,” Atty. Colmenares added. #

For reference: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, NUPL Secretary General

 

 

 

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