Philippines: ‘Diplomatic exchange’ on JPEPA toxic provisions not enough, Greenpeace says

May. 26, 2007

MANILA, Philippines — On May 24, 2007, Philippine Secretary of Foreign
Affairs Alberto Romulo announced that the Japanese government has
confirmed that Japan will not export toxic waste to the Philippines
under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). The
confirmation is contained in an exchange of diplomatic notes signed on
the same day by Sec. Romulo and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis said:

“Far from allaying fears of toxic waste dumping in the Philippines, the
diplomatic exchange unfortunately still reinforces the pervading concern
that there is an underlying intention to trade in hazardous waste within
the JPEPA. The fact that the JPEPA still includes provisions which
incentivizes trading of hazardous wastes suggests that the diplomatic
notes now being packaged as some kind of side agreement to the treaty
are not as clear-cut as both parties would like to make it appear.

“The diplomatic notes state that ‘Japan would not be exporting toxic
waste to the Philippines as defined and prohibited under the laws of the
Philippines and Japan, in accordance with the Basel Convention.’ This
is where the loophole and ambiguity lies. The alarming fact is that
current hazardous waste laws in the Philippines are among the weakest in
Southeast Asia, and allow the entry of toxic waste under the guise of
recycling. In essence, what the diplomatic notes say is that Japan will
not be sending its hazardous waste to the Philippines unless the latter
party agrees to it. Given what we know about the DENR’s slack
permitting system for hazardous waste imports, we are constrained to
take this latest pronouncement with a grain of salt.

“Moreover, while both countries have signed the Basel Convention,
neither has ratified the Basel Ban Amendment. Without the Ban
Amendment, the Philippines is not fully protected from hazardous waste
dumping by industrialized countries. Hazardous waste can still enter
the country under the excuse of recycling–an excuse that Japan can use
to ship out toxic waste legally, since it is also not party to the Ban

“With the current text of the JPEPA, the Philippines is wide open to a
shameless list of toxic waste that includes used diapers and radioactive
nuclear waste. If indeed both countries are strongly committed to
addressing environmental concerns, they would opt for removing such
toxic provisions in the treaty–rather than merely issuing diplomatic
letters external to the original agreement, and whose weight, in the
face of the bilateral treaty itself, is highly questionable.”

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization that uses
non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental
problems to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful
future. Greenpeace Southeast Asia has been working on the issue of toxic
waste trade in the Philippines for more than a decade.

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