Labor group asks senators to defer RCEP bill approval


A labor group urged the Senate to withhold its concurrence on the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) until its provisions could be sufficiently disclosed to the public.

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (united and progressive workers’ center or Sentro) said the measure is necessary due to the “secrecy” of the government, when it negotiated the provision of the international trade deal.

In a Viber message, Sentro Secretary General Joshua T. Mata told the BusinessMirror that no less than the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made the admission during the Senate hearing for its concurrence of the RCEP.

In fact, he said DTI is now planning to conduct roadshows to disseminate the effects of the RCEP to the sectors, which will be affected by it.

Industry impact

MATA emphasized that the public deserves to know the provision of the RCEP, which was signed by 15 countries, including the Philippines, since it will affect many local industries.

The deal was already ratified by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last month, and will remove as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on specified traded goods after it takes effect.

Sentro noted the agreement will be beneficial to some industries, and detrimental to others.

“That’s why, in all our discussions with our negotiators, we’ve been asking for an analysis on its implications on jobs,” Mata said.

“If there are winners and losers, who would be the winners? Who would be the losers? What’s the net impact,” he added.

Senate decision

MATA said if the Senate finds the RCEP is against public interest, it should refuse to concur the agreement.

“The Senate is under no obligation to concur if they find that the RCEP would not be beneficial for the country and its people. In such a situation, it is actually the duty of the senate not to concur,” Mata said.

RCEP is expected to take effect by January 1, 2022, by three-fifths of the 15 signatories, which includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) together with Australia, China,  Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.

Currently, only China, Singapore and Japan have ratified the RCEP.

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