Tag Archives: RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Pact

Aquino told: Submit RP-EU trade pact to Senate

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera

MANILA, Philippines- The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged soon to be proclaimed President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to submit the approved RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to the Philippine Senate for deliberation either for rejection or ratification after officials of the Philippine government and European Union yesterday finalized the content the content of the bilateral trade agreement.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the Aquino administration should follow the legal and constitutional processes required in sealing bilateral treaties with other nations such as the free trade agreement with EU.

“The treaty requires the full-blown deliberation and the concurrence of 16 senators of the incoming Philippine Senate. Mr. Aquino should not misrepresent the RP-EU bilateral pact as an executive agreement to escape Senate debate, approval or rejection,”
said France.

EU delegation to RP Ambassador Alistair MacDonald said the new trade agreement is expected to be initialed within this month of June and the official signing will be on September or October this year once the PCA text is translated into 22 other languages of EU.

The negotiations for the RP-EU trade pact which lasted about 18 months, seeks to further advance the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and EU in many of issues, including but not limited to
political, security, counter-terrorism, trade and investment, development cooperation, education and culture, energy, transport, migration, and human rights.

The Philippines is only the second Southeast Asian country to complete negotiations on an updated PCA with the EU. The EU last year clinched a bilateral trade pact with Indonesia and was signed in November 2009. The EU is also in the process of clinching negotiations with Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore

But Pamalakaya’s France said the 94 million Filipinos were all kept in the dark because the content of the RP-EU trade pact was concealed by the Arroyo administration from the public.

According to Pamalakaya, it was the EU which initially drafted the agreement and the Philippine government merely obtained a copy of the PCA on February 1, 2006 obtained a copy.

“If this is a joint partnership agreement, how come the content of the agreement is made and decided by only one party to the agreement which is the EU. Is this really a partnership agreement or an imposition from the powerful EU bloc,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said efforts to secure a copy of the partnership agreement but these efforts proved futile. “If our memory serves us right, Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna requested the office of Secretary Alberto Romulo for documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Arroyo government and the European Commission (EC) but his request was denied,” the group said.

“The Aquino administration and the 23 senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA, which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted the Senate should not be caught flat- footed as in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, or Jpepa, where the Senate, the ratifying body, was kept in the dark in the early stages of the negotiations and was compelled to seal the agreement despite Jpepa’s all-out violation of national interest and the 1987 Constitution.

“If Jpepa is nightmare, the RP-EU partnership and cooperation pact is an across-the-nation tragedy that will soon hit this nation of impoverished and starving people,” Pamalakaya said.
“The real agenda of EU in orchestrating this biggest sell-out of the century is to pass the burden of their economic and global crisis to the downtrodden people of the Third World like RP,” the group added.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Edsel Custodio on February 19 released a foreign affairs statement dated February 9, 2009, on the draft RP-EU PCA, which was submitted by the European Commission on November 21, 2006.

Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on February 1, 2006. At that time, the PCA, consisted of two separate framework agreements: the main PCA document and the political elements on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the ICC.

In May 2006 President Arroyo had met with then-EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and expressed the Philippines’ keenness on pursuing negotiations after thorough evaluation by the agencies of the Philippine government. In accordance with this directive, the DFA established the interagency process on the PCA.

Since then, according to Custodio, the draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated November 21, 2006, merged the two separate agreements of February 1, 2006, into one omnibus PCA. This version underwent a lengthy but thorough interagency process of over two years and involved around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.

Interagency deliberations continued throughout much of 2007. Some issues-particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional free-trade agreement-emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on September 24, 2007.

Interagency discussions intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters were consolidated due to the interrelatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions.

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Gov’t no contingency plans on tuna job crisis, says fishers group

By Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier-Reyes in General Santos City
and Bb. Joyce Cabral and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila

Manila, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday lamented that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration failed to come up with a contingency plan on how to address the loss of 150,000 jobs among tuna fishermen in Far South Mindanao with the two-year tuna fishing ban executed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

“The government has no contingency plans to address “the Great Tuna Crisis” of 2010. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her economic advisers are well informed that this job crisis in the tuna industry is in the offing with the imposed two-year ban, but nothing has been done to arrest the issue of labor woes and loss of economic means for tuna fish workers” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“150,000 tuna fishermen will lose their jobs, and around 750,000 people indirectly dependent on the country’s backward tuna fishing industry will also feel the economic disaster of this 2-year tuna ban. So what would be the next move of this government? Tell the poor tuna fishing people to wait for two years for the lifting of the ban?” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Big players in the tuna industry including corporations in canning of tuna said the closure of high seas for tuna fishing will render idle some 200 fishing boats for the next two years, predicting a 20 percent drop in the supply of tuna in the local and world markets. The tuna industry in General Santos is currently valued at $ 380 million based on annual export figures of 400 metric tons per year.

Hicap agreed with the observation raised by Martin Tan, president of Socsksargen Fishing Federation and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), that the closure of high seas for tuna ban, covering areas parallel to Palau, above Papua New Guinea and below Micronesia was not meant to preserve tuna stocks in West and Central Pacific, but to dislodge fishing companies from Third World countries from their tuna fishing grounds and allow tuna industrial fleets of European Union and Japan to takeover these tuna rich fishing areas.

Pamalakaya noted that in their respective free trade agreements with the Philippines, Japan for instance want to invade the Philippine waters for tuna fishing under the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), while EU also wants a share of the country’s territorial waters for tuna under the proposed RP-EU free trade pact.
The militant group said under Jpepa, the Philippine government is obliged to allow Japanese tuna factory ships to explore the country’s tuna resources in exchange for taxes derive from the value of harvested tuna from the country’s territorial waters.

Pamalakaya projected that the local tuna industry concentrated in General Santos port city stands to lose P18 billion in profits yearly once Japan tuna fishing fleets start their tuna exploration this year.

On the other hand, Japanese investors are expected to gain at least P43 billion annual profits in tuna trading, he said.

“The devastating impact of JPEPA to the local tuna industry includes the loss of 100,000 jobs provided by the local tuna fishing companies in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City and the Davao regions,” Pamalakaya said.

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 profits from the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000 metric 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 said the government should indefinitely suspend if not abrogate the Jpepa treaty with Japan if it wants the local tuna fishing industry to survive.

“The most logical and objective solution to current predicament of tuna fish workers in Southern Philippines is to abrogate Jpepa and pursue the nationalization of tuna fishing industry by investing finance capital and technology for the inward development of the tuna sector, and this will arrest the rising tide of job loss among tuna fish workers and tuna fishermen,” the group said. #

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Donor countries on storm Ondoy victims told: No strings attach please

Donor countries on storm Ondoy victims told: No strings attach please

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said donor countries who gave financial assistance to the Philippine government for the victims of tropical storm Ondoy should not ask something in return for their cash donations, saying the situation should not be used as an opportunity and occasion to advance any kind of agenda.

“If donor countries want to help and they are sincere, that is very much welcome to the Filipino people and we will regard their respective efforts as expression of international solidarity. But if they are up for something big, let’s say big favors from the corrupt government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then forget it. No strings attach please,” said Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz in a press statement.

“We have to be brutally frank here and we believe it is a politically correct attitude in dealing with these cash aids foreign donors. These powerful foreign economies will not give cash without getting something big for their investments. That is the history of our master-slave relationship with the world’s economic giants,” added Corpuz.

The Pamalakaya information officer said most of the donor countries have anti-Filipino agenda like the European Union, the United States, Japan, Australia and China.

Corpuz said the US, which donated $ 100,000 or roughly P 47 million to flood victims, is hell bent in keeping the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and is strongly opposed to moves of the Philippine Senate to renegotiate or terminate the military pact. He said the US is also eyeing a bilateral free trade agreement with the Philippines similar to or even bigger in scope compared to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or Jpepa, which was approved by the Senate last year.

Corpuz said the European Union, which promised 2 million euro humanitarian assistance or P 140 million in total relief aid wants to enter a bilateral economic pact with the Philippines through the RP-EU Free Trade Agreement and is said to be interested in owning vast tracts of prime agricultural lands in the country and is reportedly urging lawmakers to purse Charter Change to eliminate the constitutional ban on 100 percent foreign ownership of land.

Pamalakaya said aside from Jpepa, Japan, which donated $ 220,000 for typhoon victims, is asking Malacanang’s permission to use 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Northern Luzon for bio-fuel production, while Australia, which promised 1 million Australian dollars or P 40 million in total relief aid, wants to clinch a bilateral economic and military agreement with the Philippines.

The group said China, which P 6.6 million in total donations given to Ondoy victims, is still pursuing the RP-China agreement which entails 13 sub agreements in agriculture and 6 sub-agreements in fisheries, aside from the continuation of the stalled NBN-ZTE deal and the $ 546 million North Rail Project.

On Tuesday, the massive flooding triggered by tropical storm “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) has inflicted over P4.6 billion in damage, the National Disaster Coordinating Council in its partial damage assessment said. Infrastructure losses reached more than P1.5 billion while damage to agriculture amounted to about P882.525 million, the NDCC said in its latest situation report.

“It is a partial damage assessment definitely, even loss to, or opportunity loss of revenues for establishments you know, I mean, that alone would amount to hundreds of millions at the least a day,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. said in a briefing after the Cabinet Meeting at the NDCC headquarters.

A total of 1,872,036 persons or 319,881 families have been affected by the flooding, the NDCC said.Of this number, 74,695 families or 374,890 persons have taken refuge in 607 evacuation centers.

The death toll of 240 was 100 more than Monday’s assessment. Thirty seven people remained missing. “I think for casualties the increase will be not as great but the damage figures may increase,” Teodoro said.

“The difficulty is, let’s say in a province you can very well judge a totally or partially damaged house, the problem in Metro Manila is if you have to inventory the appliances and articles inside the house, that poses some difficulty so an accurate picture of damages cannot be had easily,” the defense chief said.#

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Pamalakaya slams EU move to lift ban on 100 foreign ownership of land

Pamalakaya slams EU move to lift ban on 100 foreign ownership of land
EU told: “Don’t touch our lands”

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to quit from pressuring the Manila government from pursuing Charter Change to lift ban on foreign ownership of lands in the country.

“The European Union is committing a national political foul play in lobbying for the passage of Chacha that would lift the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land. This country is not for sale; its lands are reserved for public ownership and for the common good of every hardworking Filipino. Please don’t touch our lands and quit from conspiring with the government over the national auction of Philippine lands to European business giants,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“This diabolical economic agenda of the European Union will further exacerbate, complicate and worsen the problem of landlessness and agrarian injustice in the country. Are they trying to colonize this country through economic means under this era of globalization-led modern day slavery?” Hicap asked.

The Pamalakaya leader issued the statement, a day after former foreign affairs undersecretary Merlin Magallona warned lawmakers calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.

Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law said that the 27-member of the European Union had formally requested the Macapagal-Arroyo government under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.

The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona who was a guest speaker at a forum on Charter Change in UP College of Law on Wednesday.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap believed that the European Union wants the ban on foreign ownership abolished because the European Union would soon enter into a bilateral economic agreement with the Philippine government under the EU-RP Free Trade Agreement, where one of the major provisions is the removal of ban on foreign ownership of land.

“The Philippine government has been keeping the details of the EU-RP Free Trade Agreement away from the Filipino public and affected sectors and interest groups. This agreement will allow European transnational corporations to lease if not acquire agricultural lands and other productive lands from Filipino landowners,” he said.

“To set the record straight, the Philippine government is set to lease or sell some 1.5 million hectares of prime agricultural lands to foreign countries where the countries have entered a bilateral economic and trade agreement,” Hicap added.

According to Pamalakaya, foreign countries are allowed to lease if not buy lands from the Philippines under the following bilateral agreements—Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), RP-China Agricultural Agreement, RP-South Korea Bilateral Trade Agreement, RP-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the soon to be finalized EU-RP Free Trade Agreement and the RP-US Bilateral Trade Agreement. “All these agreements require the Philippine government to lease or sell its lands to foreign corporations, and this is extremely dangerous to the 90 million Filipinos,” the group said. #

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Anti-FTA group sees 10-million European food aid to Manila as grease money for rapid OK of RP-EU pact

Anti-FTA group sees 10-million European food aid to Manila as grease money for rapid OK of RP-EU pact

Manila, Philippines—An anti free trade agreement (FTA) group in Manila on Sunday said the 10 million Euros or roughly P 640 million worth of food aid granted by the European Commission to the Philippine government was a form of grease money to fast-track the approval of the RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which the group asserted has been kept from public scrutiny since 2004.

The Office of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines in a press statement said the P 640 million grant was part of the first package of projects to support agriculture and improve food security in the country.

It said the projects will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will help to assure supply of rice seed and increase rice production to prevent the repeat of last year’s rice crisis.

But Fernando Hicap, national chair of the fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA asserted the 10 million Euro food aid as oil money to facilitate the rapid approval of RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Manila and the European member states.

“The granting of the P 640 million food grant is highly questionable since it was timed when the Manila government and the European Union are negotiating on a bilateral pact which was authored, written and pursued by the EU giants”, the Pamalakaya leader said.

According to Pamalakaya, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic and diplomatic officials never facilitated in the drafting of the RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and were reduced as mere audience as they European Union counterparts proceeded in writing the bilateral which is supposed to be a joint partnership agreement.

“The RP-EU is supposed to be a bilateral agreement to be drafted by the two parties involved. But the Arroyo presidency never participated in the drafting and was only made to wait for the final version of the pact that would be finalized by their EU counterparts. On the other hand, the P 640 million food grant looked like a prize for the Arroyo government for performing its role to the hilt as willing lapdog of the EU transnational giants,” the militant group said.

Earlier, Pamalakaya urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alberto Romulo to make available the content of the RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which was initially drafted by EU a few years ago, and a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine government on Feb.1 2006.

The militant group also learned that Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo requested the office of Secretary Romulo to furnish him documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the European Commission but what was given to activist lawmaker was the statement of the DFA on the RP-EU ongoing negotiations on the partnership and cooperation agreement.

“Why this agreement is being processed through the syndicate way? What is the big secret being concealed by the Philippine government and the European Commission from the Filipino people? If there is nothing wrong or sinister about the PCA, then both governments, by all means, should reveal the content and let the Filipino people judge according to their collective interest,” said Pamalakaya.

Likewise, Pamalakaya urged Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and 22 other senators to compel the DFA Secretary Romulo to furnish the Senate all the important and vital documents concerning the PCA that involves issues such as trade and investment cooperation, economic and development cooperation, political cooperation and institutional framework.

“While the executive department’s job is to negotiate, the Philippine Senate which is the sole ratifying body should not be kept in the dark. The senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA is which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted that the Senate should not be caught flat footed like in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) where the Senate, the ratifying body were kept in the dark in the early stages of the negotiations and was compelled to seal the agreement despite Jpepa’s all-out violation of national interest and the 1987 Constitution.

“If Jpepa is nightmare, the RP-EU partnership and cooperation pact is an across-the-nation tragedy that will soon hit this nation of impoverished and starving people. The real agenda of EU in orchestrating this biggest sell-out of the century is to pass the burden of their economic and global crisis to the downtrodden people of the Third World like RP,” the militant group said.

DFA undersecretary Edsel Custodio on Feb.19 released a foreign affairs statement on Feb.9, 2009 on the draft RP-EU PCA which was submitted by the European Commission on Nov.21 2006.

Usec. Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on 1 February 2006. At that time, the PCA consisted of two separate Framework Agreements: the first refers to the main PCA, while the second refers to the political elements on WMD, Terrorism, and the ICC.
In May 2006, President Macapagal-Arroyo had met with then-EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, and expressed the Philippines’ keenness on pursuing negotiations after thorough evaluation by the agencies of the Philippine government. In accordance with this directive, the DFA established the Inter-Agency process on the PCA.

According to Custodio, since then, the initial draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated 21 November 2006 merged the two separate Agreements of 1 February 2006 into one omnibus PCA. It is this version that has undergone a lengthy but thorough Inter-Agency process, spanning a period of over two years and involving around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.

Inter-Agency deliberation continued throughout much of 2007. Some issues—particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional FTA—emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on 24 September 2007. There we discussed the draft PCA with the EC in order to arrive at some clarity on the nature and rationale of the PCA and how to proceed further with a view to engaging in more substantive discussions.
Inter-agency discussion intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters consolidated due to the inter-relatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions.

The Philippine response to the PCA—the Counter-Draft—was now taking shape.
On 6 October 2008, a second informal consultation was held with the EC. By this time, our agencies have thoroughly deliberated on the PCA, with some changing positions reflecting the changing times and the complexity of the issues.

A Philippine Counter-Draft was almost substantially complete. Both sides tackled the issue of how to proceed further towards actually commencing formal talks and some institutional matters regarding possible structure and modalities of the impending bilateral negotiations.
On 24 October 2008, at the fringes of the ASEM Leaders Summit in Beijing, our Leaders, President Macapagal-Arroyo and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, had made the announcement that both sides have agreed to commence negotiations. With the political mandate clear, and with no foreseeable legal or substantive impediment to negotiations, the only question left unanswered is when.

According to Usec. Custodio, this question was taken up during the 6th RP-EU Senior Officials Meeting, the official bilateral dialogue of the Philippines and the EU. There both sides agreed to start the first round of negotiations on the PCA on 9-10 February 2008, in Manila.

The EC also announced formally that an updated PCA draft, with new sections on labor and employment, justice, governance, and climate change, was to be transmitted to the Philippines by the end of 2008.

“This new EC draft, dated 22 December 2008, is still being considered by the Inter-Agency. Notwithstanding this development, the Philippines stands ready to discuss in more substantive detail its counter-proposal in this first Round of Negotiations on the PCA,” the DFA official added..#

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Don’t hide content of RP-EU partnership pact, leftists told DFA

Don’t hide content of RP-EU partnership pact, leftists told DFA

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to make available the content of the RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which was initially drafted by EU a few years ago, and a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine government on Feb.1 2006.

“This is dangerous and a complete disregard of the country’s national sovereignty. The PCA is supposed to be a joint partnership agreement, but the proposed pact between EU and RP is authored solely by the European Union in accordance with the EU’s economic and political interests in the country and this is totally unacceptable,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap added: “Worse, this development and the situations surrounding the PCA evolution has been kept from national scrutiny and public discourse over the last three years by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo.”

The Pamalakaya leader learned that Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo requested the office of Secretary Romulo to furnish him documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the European Commission but what was given to activist lawmaker was the statement of the DFA on the RP-EU ongoing negotiations on the partnership and cooperation agreement.

“Why this agreement is being processed through the syndicate way? What is the big secret being concealed by the Philippine government and the European Commission from the Filipino people? If there is nothing wrong or sinister about the PCA, then both governments, by all means, should reveal the content and let the Filipino people judge according to their collective interest,” said Hicap.

Likewise, Pamalakaya urged Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and 22 other senators to compel the DFA Secretary Romulo to furnish the Senate all the important and vital documents concerning the PCA that involves issues such as trade and investment cooperation, economic and development cooperation, political cooperation and institutional framework.

“While the executive department’s job is to negotiate, the Philippine Senate which is the sole ratifying body should not be kept in the dark. The senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA is which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted that the Senate should not be caught flat footed like in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) where the Senate, the ratifying body were kept in the dark in the early stages of the negotiations and was compelled to seal the agreement despite Jpepa’s all-out violation of national interest and the 1987 Constitution.

“If Jpepa is nightmare, the RP-EU partnership and cooperation pact is an across-the-nation tragedy that will soon hit this nation of impoverished and starving people. The real agenda of EU in orchestrating this biggest sell-out of the century is to pass the burden of their economic and global crisis to the downtrodden people of the Third World like RP,” the militant group said.

DFA undersecretary Edsel Custodio on Feb.19 released a foreign affairs statement on Feb.9, 2009 on the draft RP-EU PCA which was submitted by the European Commission on Nov.21 2006.
Usec. Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on 1 February 2006. At that time, the PCA consisted of two separate Framework Agreements: the first refers to the main PCA, while the second refers to the political elements on WMD, Terrorism, and the ICC.

In May 2006, President Macapagal-Arroyo had met with then-EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, and expressed the Philippines’ keenness on pursuing negotiations after thorough evaluation by the agencies of the Philippine government. In accordance with this directive, the DFA established the Inter-Agency process on the PCA.

According to Custodio, since then, the initial draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated 21 November 2006 merged the two separate Agreements of 1 February 2006 into one omnibus PCA. It is this version that has undergone a lengthy but thorough Inter-Agency process, spanning a period of over two years and involving around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.
Inter-Agency deliberation continued throughout much of 2007.

Some issues—particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional FTA—emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on 24 September 2007.

There we discussed the draft PCA with the EC in order to arrive at some clarity on the nature and rationale of the PCA and how to proceed further with a view to engaging in more substantive discussions.
Inter-agency discussion intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters consolidated due to the inter-relatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions. The Philippine response to the PCA—the Counter-Draft—was now taking shape.

On 6 October 2008, a second informal consultation was held with the EC. By this time, our agencies have thoroughly deliberated on the PCA, with some changing positions reflecting the changing times and the complexity of the issues. A Philippine Counter-Draft was almost substantially complete. Both sides tackled the issue of how to proceed further towards actually commencing formal talks and some institutional matters regarding possible structure and modalities of the impending bilateral negotiations.

On 24 October 2008, at the fringes of the ASEM Leaders Summit in Beijing, our Leaders, President Macapagal-Arroyo and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, had made the announcement that both sides have agreed to commence negotiations. With the political mandate clear, and with no foreseeable legal or substantive impediment to negotiations, the only question left unanswered is when.

According to Usec. Custodio, this question was taken up during the 6th RP-EU Senior Officials Meeting, the official bilateral dialogue of the Philippines and the EU. There both sides agreed to start the first round of negotiations on the PCA on 9-10 February 2008, in Manila. The EC also announced formally that an updated PCA draft, with new sections on labor and employment, justice, governance, and climate change, was to be transmitted to the Philippines by the end of 2008.

“This new EC draft, dated 22 December 2008, is still being considered by the Inter-Agency. Notwithstanding this development, the Philippines stands ready to discuss in more substantive detail its counter-proposal in this first Round of Negotiations on the PCA,” the DFA official added..#

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