Representative Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada expressed confidence that the Senate would rigorously analyze the implications of the side notes that were submitted to supposedly cure the constitutional infirmities that JPEPA has.
“Yet, we should not gloss over the fact that JPEPA actually still faces outright rejection from the Senate because of the bungling of our own negotiators in handling it. It is still very much possible that the side notes are not sufficient to address those defects. The side notes must be made public but let us not forget, our negotiators should be held accountable for putting our country in an embarrassing position,” he said.
The JPEPA problems could have been avoided if we have a Philippine Trade Representative Office that is mandated to seek a priori negotiating mandate from Congress, effectively consult with various stakeholders, have a strong research and legal arm and be the overall seer of all trade negotiating efforts. Such a proposal is embodied in House Bill 318 and House Bill 949 authored by Representative Tañada and Speaker Prospero Nograles respectively. The bill has passed the Committee on Government Reorganization and is merely awaiting approval of the Committee on Appropriations. A counterpart measure authored by Senator Mar Roxas is pending in the Senate.