News Roundup −09 May 2008

A few days after the president's call on big businesses to help her fight Meralco, and the GSIS started posturing for a corporate battle, the chairman of the power company's controlling company declared that it is open to a government buyout.

The most important stories today are still about a commodity deemed so vital that the government is forced to heavily subsidize it. In reality however, people can really live healthier, wealthier and happier without it.

Since the government will probably be forced to let go of $500 million (the approximate offer price for its Petron shares) to subsidize 1 million metric tons of imported rice, the president is keeping a sharp eye on suspected rice hoarders to make sure that its expenses will not go to naught. Yesterday, she personally went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to follow up on the filing of cases against suspected rice hoarders. Of the 33 arraigned, 14 were charged for diverting government procured NFA rice to be packed and sold at higher prices.

A few hours later, it was reported that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced the result of its study on consumer price elasticity in the Philippines. The ADB stated that for every 10% increase in food items, 2.3 million Filipinos fall into poverty. The report added that the same amount of increase in non food items has the same effect on 1.7 million Filipinos. The same study however mentioned that an increase in food prices will benefit net food producers who are not necessarily the farmers, who mainly falls under the category of consumers.

The study conforms to the position of the Trade Union Congress of the Philiippines (TUCP) that the plan of the Regional Wages and Productivity Board's (RTWPB) to grant P15.50/day cost of living allowance (COLA) will be infective in helping alleviate the lives or Metro Manila's workers. They are demanding nothing less than an P80/day across the board wage increase. Let it be noted that some respected economists in the country warns that an increase greater than the amount of P20/day will probably trigger more price increases.

To make matters worse, 53 schools are now petitioning the Department of Education (DepEd) for an 8~10% tuition fee increase by next month.

A good balancing act for the government is therefore very necessary. Will it want to please the workers and cause further inflation or will it follow its mathematical computations at the cost of unpopularity? Still want to run for the presidency?

In Singapore, there's news for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW's). In that country, employers or members of their household who cause hurt to a domestic worker may be jailed for up to 18 months or fined up to 1,500 Singapore dollar or both. A Singaporean housewife was charged for pinching the arm and thighs of her Indonesian maid. A few days prior to that, A Singaporean engineer was ordered jailed for three weeks for physically assaulting his Filipina maid.

That's all for now. If there are updates, you'll find it in this site. Please stay tuned.

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