Aquino pressed to review Manila-Tokyo trade deal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Tomada Sakaguchi in Tokyo City, Japan

Via-PLDT-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately review the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement(Jpepa) which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap the review and possible abrogation of the bilateral trade pact between the Philippines and Japan could happen in the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

“This is a make or break for Aquino and his Yellow Republic. We are giving him 100 days to serve the death sentence to this one-sided agreement whose only claim to fame is the awarding of 30 caregiving jobs to 30 Filipino nurses in 2009,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Japanese government and the Japanese corporations are engaged in indirect bribe to ensure the incoming Aquino administration will continue to uphold and support the anti-Filipino economic and partnership treaty.

Citing a recent report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Hicap said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently renewed its offer to provide at least $ 700 million in aid to the Aquino administration.

NEDA said the JICA country assistance to the Philippines is meant for the country to achieve its next Medium Term Philippine Development Plan that involves support programs and projects in the areas of capacity building, operation and maintenance and climate change. But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the money was meant to fast track the implementation of Jpepa.

“This seven hundred million US dollar economic aid to RP is part of the pro-Jpepa offensive of Japan. If this is not a direct or indirect bribe, then what is it? A charity work from Japanese corporate syndicates? We don’t think so,” Hicap added.

According to Pamalakaya, a single 3,000-gross ton Japanese factory ship is capable of harvesting 50,000 metric tons of tuna a year or 150 metric tons of tuna per day. Based on industry standards, a single factory ship could earn as much as $32.5 million in gross profitsfrom the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000metric ton tuna catch, which is $210 million. “A single medium size factory ship thus will earn $242.5 million a year, and since Japan at the very least, employs four factory ships in its regular tuna fishing expedition per country, we expect them to earn a total of $ 970 million or P43.5 B per year,” the group said.

At present the local tuna industry yearly produces 400,000 metric tons of tuna, with 15 percent of the production going to domestic market and 85 percent for exports.

The European Union accounts for 40 percent of the country’s fresh and canned tuna exports or roughly 64,000 metric tons per year. The rest of the exports are shipped to tuna markets of Japan and the United States.

Pamalakaya recalled that during the Senate deliberation of Jpepa, Sen. Aquino voted against the controversial treaty. The group said Aquino can challenge anew the treaty by calling the Philippine Senate to review Jpepa and compel the 23-member of the August chamber to recall its ratification in 2008. #

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