Archive for the ‘inflation’ Category

Terrorism, economic meltdown and other problems facing Americans and the world

September 24, 2008

There is a lulling effect of media’s downplay of other important problems affecting Americans. As an example, in a Gallup poll taken in March 2008, only 2% worry about terrorism—as though it’s a problem of the past.

This is partly an effect of liberal media’s dismissal that those who are bothered by terrorism are essentially “war mongerers” and “alarmists.” Many media people are averse to paying the high cost of security to a point of misleading the public. They ignore that enemies determined to harm us take their time and they wait. There are those who believe diplomacy is often effective and terrorists and Al Qaeda can be appeased in the name of friendship.

The hard reality is terrorism only needs one occasion to succeed. And terrorists are determined and clever. They pulled through in 911 at the World Trade Center (WTC) and in the cowardly killings in Spain, Bali, Kenya, Pakistan, UK, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Philippines, and in other parts of the world. Being friendly with terrorists is therefore a risky business.

The problem issues that citizens (with changing and short attention spans) have grown. But would you believe, only 2% of Americans as of March 2008 Gallup Poll thinks terrorism is a problem?

The new economic woes in Wall Street divert the nation’s attention away from other equally significant problems. The world reacts the same way—finger-pointing on who is to blame after foolishly ignoring the danger signs of the economic meltdown before they blew in the people’s faces.

Reckless buying of houses that they couldn’t afford wasn’t a problem until the mortgage crisis took its toll. Many who were stuck to what they erroneously believed were gripped with panic. Denial, complacency and short memory proved to be dangerous to the security of these individuals, the nation, and the world.

The Most Important Problem(s) Facing America, March 2008

Economic Problems…………………….35%
Iraq War……………………………………21%
Health Care & Costs……………………8%
Fuel, Gas Costs………………………….8%
Immigration & Illegal Aliens……………6%
Jobs & Unemployment…………………..5%
Gov’t Corruption & Incompetence…..5%
Moral Decline………………………………4%
Inflation & Cost of Living………………..4%
Poverty & Hunger………………………….3%
National Security…………………………..2%

Source: Gallup Poll, March 2008/Fleeced (Morris, D; McGann E; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2008, pp. 46-47.) Photo Credit: Mario Zuccal. =0=

RP’s rising inflation rate: highest in 17 years

September 5, 2008

The American Heritage Dictionary defines inflation as a persistent increase in consumer prices or a lowering of the purchasing power caused by an increase in currency and credit beyond the proportion of available goods and services. It is said that if the supply is equal to the demand, there should be no inflation. But in the real world this doesn’t happen so often and inflation is as shifty as it fluctuates with the economy. It is rampant from the United States, Europe, and Asia and elsewhere in the world as one sees in the chart.

Inflation Rate (%)
Czech Republic——6.7
Zimbabwe———–2.2 million %

The Philippines’ 12.2% national inflation rate of July has increased to 12.5% in August 2008 driving it up to a 17-year high, pushing the prices of commodities to rise. The new inflation rate is at the high end of the central bank’s prediction range of 11.8 to 12.6%. Philippine provinces are affected more than the National Capital Region.

The central bank will have September inflation data before its next rate decision on Oct. 9 and many analysts said the monetary authority may raise rates for a fourth and final time next month to bolster the weakening peso and because domestic inflationary pressures are still prevalent.” Philstar (O9/06/08, Ferriols, D.)

In a quick reassuring statement by monetary officials (the usual they do with bad news) there are “moderating” factors that may cut down prices. Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco, Jr blames external factors like the fluctuations of fuel prices as the main reason for the rising inflation trend. (Photo Credit: Ian Riley)=0=.


Hungry Filipinos, Release of 16 Innocent Prisoners And Cholera Death Toll In Mindanao

August 8, 2008

14.5 million
—-Is the estimated number of Filipinos (representing 2.9 million households) who experienced involuntary hunger between April and June 2008 according to a SWS survey. The occurrence of severe hunger rose to 4.2% which corresponds to about 3.3 million people in 760,000 families.

34—-Of the 67 prisoners attended to by the Justice on Wheels in Caloocan City, Philippines, 34 were released. Nineteen of them finished serving jail time while 16 were found innocent of their crime. The incredibly crowded Caloocan City jail keeps 1,500 prisoners in a facility that’s intended for only 500.

21—Death toll of the cholera outbreak in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao between July 27 to Aug 6, 2008. Residents became ill in what experts believe to be linked with drinking contaminated water. As of Aug 6, 2008, 147 individuals are suspected to harbor the disease.

10,000—From January to June 2008, the total number of Filipino nurses who took the licensure examination in the United States. The number is 107 shy of the total number of nurses who took the same test in the same period last year. Almost 500,000 students are currently enrolled in nursing in the Philippines today.

—-The number of Filipino girls rescued from illegal recruitment by human trafficking syndicates recently. Coming from poor towns in the provinces, the girls are locked up by their recruiters while they wait for assignments abroad as OFWs, mostly in the Middle East as domestic workers. Some of these girls end up being abused by employers and they seek help from the Philippine embassy.

12.2%—-Inflation rate of the Philippines in July 2008. Exceeding the previous inflation rate of 11.4% in June, this is the highest in 16 years. Inflation rate averaged 8.3 percent in the first six months of the year, surpassing the government’s original forecast of 3 to 5 percent for 2008

P2.50-P3.50—-Price of pan de sal this week after a 50 centavo rise. Correspondingly, the price of a loaf bread went up to by P3 and now runs at P50-55/ loaf.

66%—The percentage of Filipinos who are scrimping on food, said Pulse Asia in a survey conducted last June and July 2008 in response to high prices of commodities. The same survey disclosed households consume and spend less on electricity, cell phones, transportation, water, and medicine.

90%—-The percentage of disabled persons who are poor, according to Geraldine Ruiz, president of the Organization of Rehabilitation Agencies. As per World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, 10 to 15% of the Filipino population has some kind of disability.

—The number of families (with a total of 6,547 individuals) that are displaced due to a new wave instability and chaos perpetrated by the secessionist group MILF in Midsayap and Aleosan towns alone. Burning of houses, destruction of plantations, looting of properties and cattle rustling, among others are the reasons why civilians are forced to leave the troubled spots in Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines. =0=

Decaying bodies at sea, an inflation rate of 11.4%, and a cascade of woes for Filipinos

July 4, 2008

Barely three weeks after the negligent grounding of the Sulpicio Lines ferry at the height of typhoon Frank, a cascade of adverse effects has surfaced adding more injury and pain to untold number of people, near and far from Romblon, the site of the tragedy.

As evidence of negligence surface, decaying bodies float in the sea, making retrieval difficult. As days go by, the burden to identify these bodies has overtaxed the forensic experts, raising anew the lack of preparedness of the nation to tackle a catastrophe of this magnitude.

Relatives of those who died have lost sleep grieving their lost loved ones. They’re confused about their legal rights—what options they have to pursue justice for those who perished. Rather than fight the gargantuan obstacles posed by the sluggish legal system, can they be appeased by measly settlements by the owners of the ferry company? They mull on whether the P200,000 being offered by Sulpicio Lines to each victim is the right compensation for each human life.

A hideous find of toxic insecticide in the sunken ferry has posed problems on how to contain a potential contamination that could sicken people in the area and destroy the livelihood of countless fishermen dependent on the resources of the sea. Time is of the essence. It isn’t easy to remove the 10-ton illegal cargo that’s sitting dangerously in the hull of the Princess of the Stars. Endosulfan (thiodan) is highly dangerous and a significant leakage of the chemical poses destructive possibilities that could last for years. It poses health risks for those working to recover anything from the ill-fated ferry.

Hundreds of miles away, like in poor Bicol villages of Balatan and Pasacao in Camarines Sur, innocent people bear the brunt of the disaster. In Naga City, a sharp drop of fish consumption on fear of contamination has driven down price of fish to 80% below its normal value while the cost of rice rose to 43%.

Before the news of dead bodies floating in Ragay Gulf broke, fish sales were okay. Of the 100 customers who buy here during normal times, you could only have one today who would dare to buy our products,” Corazon Diaz, vendor of Naga City said, dramatizing the immediate impact of dead bodies in the seas to their business even as the Department of Health has officially announced that there was no immediate danger on people’s health. Bicol Mail. (O7/05/08, Escandor, J. Jr.)

Parallel to the damage wrought by storm, the effects of fuel price increases continue to batter the nation. The rainy season has set in and more typhoons and landslides are expected by the weather watcher PAGASA. Mayon volcano in Albay has shown signs of activity which augurs a possible eruption. The dollar exchange which hovers at P45.70 per dollar has weakened, prompting central bank to prop up the currency from further devaluation. In June, the inflation rate has risen to 11.4%, pegging a record high in 14 years.

“The price of rice soared by 43 percent because of growing demand and increased costs of inputs. This means that the rice a consumer bought for P100 in June last year may be had for P143 last month.

Prices of food products included in the Filipino consumer basket rose by 17.4 percent. This means food products that had cost P100 in June last year, cost P117.4 last month.” Inquirer (07.05.08, Remo, M.)

The hideous chain of events is nothing that anyone could have imagined, but it has happened— wrecking havoc to the entire nation. To what extent the public will cope with these calamities (natural or man-made, local or global) is something for now and the future. Certainly, there’s enough blame to spread around, but in this situation, it’s the poor, the young, and elderly who suffer the most. =0=

What will 59 congressmen do in USA?

June 21, 2008

In Albay, a staggering 200,000 people (40,000 families) have been evacuated as a result of this week’s typhoon Frank. The national unemployment rate has reached 8% and inflation rate is about to breach the 10% mark. Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo has asked Filipinos to be frugal in the midst of rising fuel prices and rice shortage.

But 59 congressmen, a fourth of 238-member legislative house will join Mrs. Arroyo and her family (including the husband and two congressmen-children) in a US visit this coming week to the White House.

According to Philstar (06/21/08, Diaz, J,) the Philippine delegation, like in the past, is composed mostly of Arroyo’s friends and Kampi party members. It is larger than the 34-member group which accompanied her to France, Spain, and England and the 15-member team which attended the World Economic Forum in Dagos, Switzerland.

The US trip has no major agenda that the public knows except that Mrs. Arroyo is meeting Pres. George W.Bush, World Bank President Robert Zoelick, and Millenium Challenge Corp CEO John Danilovich. Arrangements to see US State Secretary Condolezza Rice, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, and some “select” US senators are still on the works at this late hour.

It is unclear what role most of the 59 congressmen will play in the travel which many suspect is a lusterless, low-yield, swanky junket at a time of crisis. Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of Cavite weakly justifies the trip in saying, “We can help explain the security situation, especially now that the Ces Drilon kidnapping has again tarnished our country’s image abroad.”

The travel has tell tale signs of a business and pleasure trip. It is proximate to the time when Manny Pacquiao who has avid fans among the congressmen, goes on a boxing match with WBC lightweight champ David Diaz on June 28, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Travelers have many things to do in America and they’ve lots of places to visit other than Bush’s White House. Go figure. Can we now connect the dots? =0=

Quotes to ponder

June 9, 2008

The inflation rate will still go up before it goes down and there is a very good chance that it will breach 10 percent. The ten percent is an important threshold. Beyond this level, the psychology of the people changes and it becomes more difficult to control their expectations of price increases.”

-Cayetano Paderanga, UP economist who predicts the difficulty of controlling inflation in what analysts call RP’s brewing “perfect economic storm.” abs-cbnNewsOnlineI/AFP (06/09/08).

Life is not a battle. I love it; I want more of it. That’s all I ask, just a little more.”

-Rudy Fernandez, Filipino actor shortly before he died of periampullary cancer on June 7, 2008. PDI (05/14/08, Velarde, EG)

“You may be a Frenchman, but you can’t outthink a Filipino.”

-Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile rebuking Hubert D’Aboville, spokesman of Joint Foreign Chamber and president of European Chamber of Commerce for urging Pres. Gloria Arroyo not to renegotiate government contracts with independent power producers or allow amendments to the Electric and Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). Enrile interprets this as foreign interference to RP’s legislative process. (06/06/08, Uy, V.)

When will the palace worry about the soaring prices?

June 7, 2008

It is the question that crossed my mind when I read Malaya’s banner news on June 6, 2008 saying Malacanang Palace isn’t worried about the soaring prices. True? I think it’s one of the misleading signals our government wants us to believe—that everything is under control and there is no cause for worry when dark clouds gather like the onset of a storm.

The government insists it has “strong macroeconomic fundamentals,” and thus expected to withstand the “external shock” of a financial downturn. They say the administration has responded well to food shortages by giving cash dole-outs to the poor in its new “Ahon Pamilyang Pilipino” program.

There is indeed free money to give away as an aid package (P6000 /year) for the impoverished Filipinos. With additional health allowance (P500 /year,) education grant (P300 per school child/year,) and fertilizer subsidy (P1500) to farmers, our country seems successful in allying the restiveness of the poor for now. But this move makes many people apprehensive. In the long haul, the public fears the government’s band-aid solution is something we cannot afford.

In many places nationwide, under the blistering heat of the sun, poor Filipinos line up everyday to buy their dwindling ration of rice. It’s a pathetic daily scene of time wastage which deepens despair. The strain it causes gives famine a greater chance of becoming real. It may take only a few months of food shortages before more malnutrition shows up in the 24 million people who live with less than 67 pesos per day.

In the fuel front meanwhile, gasoline in the pump recently gets another round of increase: a P1.50/liter adjustment to reflect the high cost of crude oil and basic commodities. The peso-dollar exchange (P44/dollar) is down. With no end in sight, skyrocketing costs jacked-up inflation rate to 9.6% in the past month, the highest in nine years.

Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo has signed Executive Order 728 on June 2 to give her emergency powers under the National Food and Emergency Council, most likely in preparation for any social turbulence that may result as prices soar. Instead of issuing the order, it should have been better if she leads aggressively to plant rice and veggies—-a full-scale campaign against the failed import policy which brought the nation scrambling for its food supply abroad.

At a plenary session of the High Level Conference of World Food Security held in Rome, Italy, Philippine Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Yap pleaded for an urgent measure “to reverse the double-whammy of shrinking farm production and spiraling prices of basic staples worldwide.” Yap said vulnerable countries in the world aren’t interested with words. They want action.

How then can Malacanang say there’s no cause to worry?

Inquirer’s opinion writer Isagani Cruz wrote a few weeks ago that the lack of government sincerity and honesty sends more alarm than the problem of food scarcity. He opined our present crisis could be exploited to suppress the public’s attention to the corruption scandals which remained tucked under the rug with Pres. Arroyo watching. It seemed the sincerity and honesty that he referred to was what Gregorio Bituin, Jr. wanted to convey in his eloquent Tagalog sonnet about truth and lies:


Payag ka bang pawang kasinungalingan
Ang mangaglipana sa ating lipunan?
Hindi ba’t maigi ay katotohanan
Itong pairalin sa kapaligiran?

Kasinungalinga’y siyang pumapatay
Sa katotohanang hangarin ay lantay
Pag baya’y nilugmok, sakbibi ng lumbay,
Pa’no pa gaganda itong iwing buhay?

Kasinungalinga’y simpait ng apdo
Kita nang hanapin ang bawat totoo
Harapin ma’y pawang mga sakripisyo
Kahit man banggain ay pader na bato.

Kapag totoo na’y ating nasumpungan
Pukyutang kaytamis ang malalasahan.=0=