The Senate has finally ratified the free trade pact with Japan with 16-4 vote. From where I sit, this went down as the second surrender of the Philippines to Japan.
I am truly disappointed. However, the four who voted NO deserve my high regard and congratulations.
They are Senators Noynoy Aquino, Chiz Escudero, Jamby Madrigal, and Nene Pimentel. Remember these names for they are the new heroes like the Magnificent 12 who voted against the US bases in 1991.
The others I expected to vote against simply were no shows. Senator Joker Arroyo and Pia Cayetano, both vocal against crucial provisions in the pact, were absent or “conveniently absent.” Noisy oppositionist Senator Ping Lacson ironically voted yes. Another let down is Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
Senator Mar Roxas proved to be a wimp. He admitted that the treaty was lopsided and yet campaigned for it. He was more afraid of losing out to our neighbors which has similar trade agreement with Japan than its ill effects on our country and people. Roxas missed a golden opportunity to lead and shine. The victory of Japan has shown that Roxas is a mere follower, an ordinary soldier of Senate President Manny Villar, who together with Senator Miriam Santiago succeeded in mustering the required 16 collaborator votes.
Eight votes would have killed the treaty.
Civil society oppositors to the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) are now shifting the fight at the Supreme Court with a planned petition to be filed soon.
Me, I would rather start a “JPEPA Watch” to see if the so-called promises of this treaty – such as a flood of investment from Japan, more exports of Philippine agricultural products to Japan, more jobs for Philippine health workers in Japan, no toxic waste from Japan – would really come true.
If not, I would send an “in your face!” message to the 16 senators who voted for it. Yes, there are still many Filipinos who consider accountability as a serious matter.