Militant Groups Itching To March, Protest High Prices In RP

December 12, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 12, 2007) – A broad alliance against privatization and commercialization of basic services in the southern Philippines said it would join the nationwide strike Thursday by transport groups to protest the rising cost of commodities and worsening poverty in the Philippines.

“With the rising cost of almost all basic commodities we cannot feel the strength of the peso that the Arroyo government is boasting about,” said Leon Bolcan, spokesperson of the Consumer Alert (CA).

He said the rising cost of power, water and, as seeming exemplification of how deteriorated the standard of living in the country has become.

Local prices of flour were affected by the global increase in wheat prices due to short supplies. This prompted the Philippine Federation of Bakers Association Inc., Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association Inc, and the Philippine Baking Industry Group to announce that they had been suffering for the past months due to continuous increase of prices of wheat and flour.

Data showed that the prices of flour have increased at least 6 percent a month for the past six months, forcing the bakers to increase the price of pan de sal to P2.50 this month.

CA expects this to have a harrowing repercussion on the prices of other flour-based products including noodles and snack foods.

”Pan de sal (bread) and noodles are common foods in the tables of Filipino families, ‘pantawid gutom’ even to some. The LPG price has already increased 13 times this year and resulted to skyrocketing prices of other basic commodities. Why can’t we feel the so-called boom on the economy? We are still being pushed to the wall and reduced to living on a per day basis,” Bolcan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

He said they will join the transport strike tomorrow to protest the decline of livelihood and worsening poverty.

“Consumers must not solely shoulder the blows of non-stop price increase. The transport strike tomorrow, in the face of worsening poverty and brazen corruption, is all the more justifiable and needs the united support of the entire Filipino people,” Bolcan said. The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also urged lawmakers to prioritize and pass bills calling for the repeal of Oil Deregulation Law and P125 wage increase for workers before their Christmas break “for the best interest of the majority of Filipinos.”

Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson, said the succeeding oil price hikes, the scheduled increases in water and power rates this month are enough reasons that workers’ salaries should be immediately adjusted and a deregulated scheme in the oil industry be scrapped.

“It is unfortunate that again President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s attention and feelings are so far away from the Filipinos’ cries and demands and refused to include the P125 legislated wage hike bill and repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law to the nine priority bills she wanted to be passed before Christmas break.”

“We therefore ask our lawmakers that for the best interests of their constituents to immediately respond to the issues that are nearest to the grumbling stomach of every Filipino,” Labog said.

He also warned that “widespread chaos and unrest” is inevitable in the coming weeks if prices of basic commodities and services will continue to rise while wages are nailed to the floor and accessible forms of livelihood are denied to the poor.

“The nationally-coordinated protest actions and nationwide transport strike on December 13 are just the beginning of a series of demonstrations that will rock the Arroyo government because it refuses to attend to every legitimate demand of ordinary Filipino. The Arroyo government must beware of what hungry Filipinos can do when they are pushed to the wall,” Labog said.

He said tens of thousands of workers affiliated with KMU will troop to the streets to join the nationally-coordinated protest actions against oil price hike.

Labog urged the public to support the nationwide protests and strike since a “one-day collective sacrifice” will be strong statement against the Arroyo government and the oil cartel.

“Majority of the Filipinos will benefit from the legitimate demands of the workers, drivers and other sectors during the demonstrations. The collective howl of protests reverberating nationwide on Thursday will provide a message to the Arroyo government that the Filipino people is serious in its demand for the Oil Deregulation Law be repealed, that the P3.00 EVAT in diesel be scrapped and for oil price increases be stopped immediately,” he said.

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