Chasing steep prices with stagnant wages

The country’s headline inflation rate, which recently inched up to 4.4 percent from 4.2 in February, comes as no surprise in view of the rising prices of basic commodities. For most Filipino families, it reflects a tighter round of making both ends meet.

The March inflation report by the National Statistics Office (NSO) noted the hikes in electricity rates and petroleum products on top of price adjustments in basic commodities. Last month, oil companies increased pump prices thrice while Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) raised its rates by P1 per kilowatt-hour.

Commodity prices, meanwhile, have remained steep. Price monitoring by the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) shows that the galunggong, which used to be a staple fish, has been on a steep price climb since May last year. Its current cost at P123 per kilo makes noodles, which are far cheaper at around P6.50, more of a staple food for poor families.

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Villar’s touchy alliance work

Invoking the mantra of uniting everyone could really mean getting into touchy issues, as Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr.’s experience proves.

Villar, who has repeatedly issued his call for unity in diversity, was reported to receive support from former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, the main character implicated in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2007.

Ugyon Kita Capiz (UKC), a local party pushing for Bolante’s gubernatorial candidacy in the province of Capiz, has expressed support for Villar and her running mate Sen. Loren Legarda, reported. Asked if NP will reciprocate Ugyon Kita Capiz’s support, Villar said the talks are at the level of the mayors only.

It can be remembered that Villar ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to arrest Bolante upon his return to the Philippines from the United States in October 2008.

An article, meanwhile, reported that a tarpaulin poster in the town of Saipan in Capiz showed Villar was supporting Bolante for governor, and that a local mayor was the one who put it up “with the knowledge of both Villar and Bolante.” But Villar denied claims that there are talks, negotiations for Bolante’s support for NP or middle men doing talks, a Daily Tribune report said.

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