Press Release
October 4, 2007


"In trade negotiations, no deal is always better than a bad deal."

"The challenge remains for our trade negotiators to show us--in specific, concrete terms--how this agreement will redound to the benefit of our people.

"Unfortunately, despite this being our fourth hearing on JPEPA, the government's presentation to the Senate is inconclusive. The 'gives & takes' remain unclear.

"The assertions made by the executive branch were effectively countered or questioned by oppositors, leading us to further doubt government's claims.

"For example, the government asserts that JPEPA will lead to the hiring of Filipino nurses, yet the oppositors have singled-out specific chapter and verse in the agreement which says our nurses will be on OJT ("on the job training") status.

"The government says that our health workers will be accorded 'national treatment,' or granted the same rights and privileges as Japanese nationals. However, no one could answer whether Filipino nurses will receive exactly the same benefits--monetary or otherwise--or protection as Japanese nurses.

"Let's make sure that all the 'takes' are not just theoretical but real gains for the people. In the same manner, we must make sure that opportunities arising from JPEPA do not come at too steep a price where eventually the negatives would outweigh the positives.

"As co-chair and given our strong bilateral relationship with Japan, I would keep an open mind about this. But certainly, the newly formed presidential task force on JPEPA has its work cut out for them. Ultimately, we must decide the fate of this agreement with our national interest firmly in mind."

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