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PR - Labor Slams Palace Inaction on Soaring Food Prices

Press Release
20 June 2014

Contact person:
Gie Relova 0915-2862555
BMP-NCRR Chapter, Secretary-General

Blames Food Insecurity on Erroneous Trade Policy
Labor Slams Palace Inaction on Soaring Food Prices

MILITANT labor strongly denounced the Aquino administration for doing nothing about the alarming increase of the prices of essential provisions. The group called on the government to act quickly and decisively by controlling prices and not simply allow market forces dictate prices of prime commodities. The militants believe there is a good chance that the market may have been tampered by abusive market players since there has been only minuscule change in global prices since 2008.

Just two weeks ago, the World Bank reported that internationally traded food prices increased by 4.0 percent. The leap was led by wheat and maize, up 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

“It is not enough that the bawang caravans make their rounds across the metro’s marketplaces, they should be doing the rounds on a regular basis and will be proven insufficient in periods such as this one. Another thing, the looming crisis involves other commodities too, not only onions,” said Gie Relova of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).

Relova angrily challenged Aquino, “to man up and use his executive powers” to control the prices of commodities since its affects all Filipinos, making it a national and immediate concern. “If Aquino fails to act upon the most fundamental of all the needs of the entire hundred million Filipino population, then the hungriest of them all, the impoverished masses will act upon their grumbling bellies in a manner the government shall surely regret”.

Reacting to statements made the other day by Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma, he asserted that, “For Coloma to simply pronounce that Filipinos must tighten their belts and accept high prices as they are, is tantamount to state abandonment because our belts have long been tightened, thanks to their erroneous pursuit of neo-liberal trade liberalization partnered with wage suppression”.

The BMP insists that under a liberalized economy an underdeveloped agricultural country such as the Philippines will periodically suffer from price shocks since it is forced to compete with highly modernized farming practices, common among developed nations.

“It’s the modern-age tale of David and Goliath, but with a very different ending. The Philippines shall be economically brutalized under this trade policy,” the labor leader quipped.

The labor leader believes that the quintessential issues of smuggling, bribery of customs and trade officials, hoarding, price manipulation, market speculation and other corrupt trade activities will remain as common as dirt if the Aquino administration continues not to admit that the country’s food security is in constant peril under a flawed trade policy.

Government economists, the BMP asserts, “Must move beyond its current state by de-liberalizing basic agricultural commodities by freeing itself from the dictates of the World Trade Organization and international financial institutions, and aggressively prioritize and pursue the modernization of our agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency”.

However Relova was also quick to add that, “Liberalization of certain commodities will only be acceptable if it is directly advantageous to our land tillers and must not impede domestic growth”.

The labor group pledges that they shall launch protest actions one after the other until their demands for price-control is granted and the liberalization of agriculture is overturned.###

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