MANILA — The Senate on Tuesday approved the ratification of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Present in the Senate session were Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno, Budget Sec. Amenah Pangandaman, NEDA Sec. Arsenio Balisacan, DTI Sec. Alfredo Pascual and other officials backing RCEP.
Twenty senators voted in favor of ratifying RCEP, Sen. Risa Hontiveros voted no, while Sen. Imee Marcos abstained.
Co-sponsors of the measure, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Loren Legarda, defended RCEP and its supposed benefits for the country.
Zubiri claimed that the agreement would create 1.4 million jobs in 2031.
Marcos meanwhile feared that RCEP would have the same negative effect of the controversial Rice Tariffication Law.
“Ito ang kinatatakutan natin, meron tayong Senate resolution on RCEP… Ito nga ang problema, nakita natin sa Rice Tariffication Law, may funds na sinasabi yet study showed that the income of farmers fell by 40 percent. How do we ensure that the measure indicated will protect the vulnerable sectors?" Marcos said.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier allayed concerns that ratifying the RCEP will hurt the agriculture sector.
NEDA said Philippine agriculture even stands to benefit from the free trade deal.