Philippine News Roundup −16 May 2008

A P20/day additional take home pay for Metro Manila workers was announced by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This was immediately met with disapproval by labor union Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) who is demanding no less than a P125/day salary hike. The amount of increase was widely expected in view of earlier pronouncements by some respected economists that an amount greater than P20/day will simply lead to more price increases. Despite that, an economist at British bank HSBC disagrees, saying that P20 is still inflationary and price increases can be expected soon.

A slight breather in the recent price increases, in the international futures market oil prices fell by 10 cents per barrel as demand fell. The world's biggest consumer of oil, the United States now has a higher than expected inventory and a number of speculators took to profit taking, thus resulting to the decline in oil price. It is noted that this is the 2nd decline in two days, the first of which happened when Iran came out with a statement that it has no plans to cut its oil exports. In addition to an earlier government pronouncement that it is on track in meeting its revenue goals for 2008, the remittances of Filipino Overseas Contract Workers (OFW) for March 2008 reached record levels at $1.4 billion.

In continuation of the renewed ZTE NBN scandal, news agencies also revealed that the president was accompanied by former Speaker Jose de Venecia and then COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos. The President admitted playing golf and having lunch with ZTE officials but declared that it was nothing beyond a social meeting. Despite this, she continued to draw flak for its late disclosure. In the Senate, senators are contemplating on their next moves in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling regarding the barring of cabinet officials from testifying regarding matters considered as “Executive privilege”.

For the weather, PagAsa foresees cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms in Metro Manila until the weekend as COSME was upgraded to a tropical storm. It is was estimated at 2AM today at 13.2N (latitude) and 117.5E (longitude) or 395 kms west of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, with a maximum sustained wind of 55 kph heading NNE at the speed of 09 kph towards Zambales-La Union.

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