The Philippine Senate has ratified a controversial trade deal with Japan which was opposed by activists for allegedly compromising the country's sovereignty and patrimony, senate records showed Thursday.
The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement was ratified late Wednesday by a vote of 16 to 4, with no abstention, reported dpa.
Senator Manuel Roxas, who voted for the ratification of the deal, said it would be damaging to the country if the senate did not ratify the agreement.
"It is necessary for us to keep up our competitiveness with our South-East Asian neighbours who have their respective economic agreements with Japan," he said.
Roxas vowed that the senate will be very vigilant to ensure that the agreement will not be abused.
The agreement will allow the deployment of Filipino workers to Japan, especially nurses and caregivers.
Other components of the economic partnership agreement include reduction or elimination of tariffs on industrial and agricultural products, and the facilitation of immigration and work permit procedures for Japanese nationals in the Philippines.
But activists maintained the agreement would be detrimental to the Philippines and would allow Japan to exploit the country's natural resources.
"Today is a dark day for the country's sovereignty and patrimony but we vow to continue our struggle," according to the leftist group Bayan. "We will use all available means - from mass protests to the Supreme Court - to stop its implementation."
Opponents said the deal violated the Philippine constitution, especially the provisions on foreign ownership and investment.