Greenpeace statement on the Senate Trade Committee hearing today on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)

Press release - November 7, 2006
Von Hernandez, Campaigns Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said: “Greenpeace welcomes moves by the Senate to scrutinize the JPEPA, in particular its provisions which tend to encourage the dumping of hazardous waste from Japan to the Philippines. We object to these provisions in the JPEPA and unless they are stricken out or deleted from the treaty, we urge the Senate to reject the said agreement.

"Greenpeace shares the position of other groups calling for the non-ratification of this agreement. The track records of both countries with respect to hazardous waste trade give a clear indication of the path this agreement will take should it be ratified. Japan has been implicated in a number of hazardous waste trading scandals in the past, including one involving the export of hospital and clinical waste to the Philippines not too long ago. Moreover, Japan continues to ship toxic electronic waste to countries like China where so-called 'recycling' operations have laid to waste communities and important ecosystems.

"Despite the passage of RA 6969, the Philippines has been lax in stemming the tide of toxic waste imports into the country. Through a loose permitting system which justifies the entry of hazardous wastes

into our shores for so-called economic purposes, the DENR has been allowing the importation of toxic wastes such as used lead acid batteries, waste oil and electronic waste from other countries, in direct contravention of the spirit and intent of the Basel Convention. While the government claims that environmental laws will protect the country from the kind of toxic dumping encouraged in the JPEPA, the evidence does not really give us enough reasons to be optimistic.

"Provisions in the trade agreement which are intended to facilitate the entry of restricted and hazardous wastes into the Philippines would only exacerbate this dangerous trend and legitimize a practice which the

global community has unequivocally condemned and denounced with the adoption of the Basel Convention more than a decade ago. This is what makes JPEPA, toxic trade of the worst kind.

"And with the non-ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment by both countries, these provisions can only be seen as a barefaced attempt by both parties to undermine the Basel Convention and allow Japan a 'legal' escape valve for its hazardous wastes. If incinerator ash and clinical wastes were such valuable materials, then Japan should happily keep them. The Philippines must not allow the effluent of the affluent to end up in our shores and poison the health of our communities and our environment.

"As an important next step, the Senate must ratify the Basel Ban Amendment to ensure that the safeguards against toxic waste dumping into our country are in place. JPEPA deliberately puts the Philippines in a

terrible disadvantage. We cannot have sunk so low as to trade away our future for toxic waste."

Other contacts: Von Hernandez, Campaigns Director (currently in Amsterdam, reachable via mobile phone) +63 917 526 3050 Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner (currently in Amsterdam, reachable via mobile phone) +63 917 803 6077 In the Philippines: Francis dela Cruz, Regional Outreach Coordinator, +63 917 854 2103 Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969, +63 2 434 7034 loc 104