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The signing of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe
Summit in Helsinki in September 2006 washailed by both Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and
PhilippinePresident Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as a ͞milestone in the continuingcooperation and collaboration,
setting a new chapter of strategic partnershipfor mutual opportunity and growth (for both countries).͟
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JPEPA which has been referred to as a ͚mega treaty͛ is a comprehensive planfor opening up of markets in goods
and services as well as removing barriersand restrictions on investments. It is a deal that encompasses even
ourcommitments to the WTO.
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The complexity of JPEPA became all the more evident at the Senate hearingconducted by the Committee on Trade
and Commerce last November 2006.The committee, chaired by Senator Mar Roxas, heard differing views
andperspectives on JPEPA.
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On one hand the committee heard Government͛s rosy projections on theeconomic benefits of JPEPA and on the
other hand the views of environmentaland trade activists who raised there very serious concerns about the
countrybeing turned into Japan͛s toxic waste basket.
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The discussion in the Senate showed that JPEPA is not just an issue concerningtrade and economic relations with
Japan but one that touches on broadernational development concerns.

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Do the therein petitioners have standing to bring this action for mandamus intheir capacity as citizens of the
Republic, as taxpayers, and as members ofthe Congress.
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Can this Honorable Court exercise primary jurisdiction of this case and take
cognizance of the instant petition.
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Are the documents and information being requested in relation to the JPEPAexempted from the general rules on
transparency and full public disclosuresuch that the Philippine government is justified in denying access thereto.

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The Supreme Court en banc promulgated last July 16, 2008 its ruling on thecase of ͞Akbayan Citizens Action Party
et al vs. Thomas G. Aquino et al͟ (G.R.No. 170516). The Highest Tribunal dismissed the Petition for mandamus
andprohibition, which sought to compel respondents Department of TradeIndustry (DTI) Undersecretary Thomas
Aquino et al to furnish petitioners thefull text of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)
andthe lists of the Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the negotiationprocess and all pertinent
attachments and annexes thereto.
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In its Decision, the Court noted that the full text of the JPEPA has been madeaccessible to the public since 11
September 2006, and thus the demand to befurnished with copy of the said document has become moot and
academic.Notwithstanding this, however, the Court lengthily discussed the substativesissues, insofar as they
impinge on petitioners' demand for access to thePhilippine and Japanese offers in the course of the negotiations.
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The Court held: ͞Applying the principles adopted in PMPF v. Manglapus, it is
clear that while the final text of the JPEPA may not be kept perpetually

confidential ʹ since there should be 'ample opportunity for discussion before[a treaty] is approved' ʹ the offers
exchanged by the parties during thenegotiations continue to be privileged even after the JPEPA is published. It
isreasonable to conclude that the Japenese representatives submitted theiroffers with the understanding that
'historic confidentiality' would govern thesame. Disclosing these offers could impair the ability of the Philippines to
dealnot only with Japan but with other foreign governments in future negotiations.͟
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It also reasoned out that opening for public scrutiny the Philippine offers intreaty negotiations would discourage
future Philippine representatives fromfrankly expressing their views during negotiations. The Highest
Tribunalrecognized that treaty negotiations normally involve a process of quid proquo, where negotiators would
willingly grant concessions in an area of lesserimportance in order to obtain more favorable terms in an area of
greaternational interest.
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In the same Decision, the Court took time to address the dissent of ChiefJustice Reynato S. Puno. It said: ͞We are
aware that behind the dissent of theChief Justice lies a genuine zeal to protect our people's right to
informationagainst any abuse of executive privilege. It is a zeal that We fully share. TheCourt, however, in its
endeavour to guard against the abuse of executiveprivilege, should be careful not to veer towards the opposite
extreme, to thepoint that it would strike down as invalid even a legitimate exercise thereof.͟