THE world’s largest trade pact should be debated thoroughly and not rushed into ratification, with agriculture experts calling on the government to do a better job explaining its benefits and risks.

“The burden of proof is on the government,” Former Agriculture and Trade Undersecretary Ernesto M. Ordoñez said at a Friday hearing of the Senate foreign affairs committee. “We have not studied it properly, let’s not rush.”

Although some benefits may be expected from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the preparations should be clear and all stakeholders well-informed before into the agreement, Former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Q. Montemayor said.

The Philippines, he added, should be willing to fall a little behind if it means properly safeguarding its industries.

The National Manager of the Federation of Free Farmers, Raul Q. Montemayor, also called on the Senate to defer its concurrence to RCEP, citing the lack of consultation. “We don’t know the final commitments the government has made,” he added. – Alyssa Nicole O. Tan