14 Activists Swim Manila Bay vs JPEPA

Fourteen activists swam 10 kms across the Manila Bay, from Baccor, Cavite to Pasay City (near the Senate of the Philippines), on April 28 to dramatize their opposition to the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 12, April 27-May 3, 2008

Fourteen activists swam 10 kms across the Manila Bay, from Baccor, Cavite to Pasay City (near the Senate of the Philippines), on April 28 to dramatize their opposition to the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

According to Fernando Hicap, chairman of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Alliance of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines), the objective of this 10-kim swim is “to prove to senators that this one-sided treaty if ratified will spark a sea wide revolt from Filipino fishers, the most affected sector under JPEPA.”

Hicap who is also a convenor of No Deal! JPEPA and chair of the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) was joined by Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice chairperson for Luzon; Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE; Eleanor de Guzman, secretary general of the youth group Anakbayan; and activists from the Promotion of Church People��s Response (PCPR) and the multisectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

“The 10-kilometer swim is also in search for a Patriotic 8 among the senators of the republic who will stand in the name of national interest, and will reject JPEPA all the way,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“Of course it would be ideal to have a 23-0 vote against JPEPA, but given the composition of the Senate today, where majority has political plans in 2010 and who don’t want to offend the Japanese transnational interests in the Philippines, it is a Herculean task to score a 23-0 against JPEPA,” Hicap added. “Anyway we only need eight votes to defeat the treaty.”

The group of fourteen activist swimmers began the swim protest in Barangay (village) Maliksi 2 in Bacoor, Cavite and were able to reach Pasay City at around noon. The swimmer-protesters were assisted by a couple of doctors and nurses, and at least three life savers, for the duration of the 10-kilometer swim.

Wanted Patriotic 8

Based on the latest assessment of No Deal! JPEPA, only opposition Sen. Jamby Madrigal is sure of voting against the RP-Japan economic treaty. The group said Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Pia Cayetano, Manuel Villar, Francis Escudero and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III are most likely to vote against the agreement.

No Deal! JPEPA��s Padilla said 12 out of 23 senators are still undecided or have yet to express their position on JPEPA, namely Ramon” Bong” Revilla Jr., Manuel Lapid, Loren Legarda, Joker Arroyo, Gregorio Honasan, Francis Pangilinan, Miguel Zubiri, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, Jinggoy Estrada, Rodolfo Biazon and Panfilo Lacson.

The five senators who are sure to vote in favor of JPEPA are Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Manuel Roxas III, Richard Gordon, Juan Ponce Enrile and Edgardo Angara, all pro-administration senators.

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