Philippines won’t be dumping ground of Japan’s toxic wastes — Arroyo

May. 23, 2007

TOKYO, Japan President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured today that her administration would not allow the Philippines to be the dumping site of toxic and other hazardous wastes from Japan under the proposed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

“Definitely, we will not be the dumping site of toxic wastes (from Japan),” the President told Hisatsugu Nagao of the International News Department of Nikkei Shimbun who interviewed her at the presidential suite at the 16th floor of Imperial Hotel here this morning.

Later, in a separate interview by Masao Kotani of the World Business Satellite of Tokyo TV 12, the President reiterated her governments position on the hazardous waste disposal issue.

Fears by Filipino environmentalists and lawmakers that JPEPA would open the floodgates to the Philippines becoming a dumping site of Japans industrial wastes have overshadowed the benefits that the Philippines stands to derive from the agreement.

The ratification of the JPEPA has been pending in the Senate since Congress went on a recess last February in preparation for the May 14 midterm elections..

Under the JPEPA, the Philippines would gain greater access not only to the Japanese agricultural and other markets but also Tokyos financial services.

Japan would also allow the entry of a greater number of Filipino professionals, including doctors, nurses and caregivers.

“We have to address certain issues. But to start with, Japan is our valued partner. The JPEPA is a milestone in our relationship. And it is very important that we have to explain very carefully what the advantages of the agreement to our Filipino farmers, fishermen, food processors and our nurses and caregivers,” the President said.

The government would not close the door on the controversy, saying “it is also very important to address the issue about the possibility of toxic wastes from Japan being dumped in the Philippines.”

The Chief Executive said that upon her return to the Philippines at the end of her four-day visit here on Friday, she would immediately hold discussions with the senators on the various ramifications of JPEPA and the importance of the agreement to the Philippines.

“I believe that when the issues are clarified, no reasonable senator will oppose the ratification” of the proposed agreement.

She said that she had asked Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, to accompany her in her Japan trip so the senator could explain to her fellow lawmakers the various aspects of JPEPA.

In a statement, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said the President is confident that senators would support ratification of the JPEPA after she explain to them the full range of immediate and long-term benefits the country would derive from the agreement.

“We live in a lively democracy. Opposition is part of democracy and is expected in the Senate ratification process,” Bunye said.

But he added that the administration is confident that the “Senate will listen to all and weigh the issues” involved in the proposed accord. (OPS) (

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