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Price freeze on commodities. Lament from ordinary workers

The country’s biggest labor organization, the Associated Labor Unions, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is imploring President Duterte for a price freeze on basic and essential commodities and other consumer goods in the light of spiraling increases of prices of those items.

The organized labor with thousands of social contracts with their social partner through the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) based on records from the DOLE Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) wrote a letter asking President Duterte’s intervention on the extraordinary movement of prices of the commodities in the market.

For brevity, due to lack of space, I will reprint the essence and substance of said letter for public consumption.

“Dear President Duterte:

We write to His Excellency, for and on behalf of the millions of unemployed, those who hardly earn due to flexible work arrangements and for the minimum wage earners, for urgent action by relevant Departments of Government to put in place effective price controls on basic and essential commodities and to provide an income subsidy for workers.

The prices of basic commodities spiraled upwards even weeks before the expiration of Presidential Proclamation 1081 as some unscrupulous traders and middlemen and socially irresponsible retailers tossed the proclamation aside in their rush to make profits hand over fist.

Basic commodities are now becoming beyond-thereach of workers as their diminished incomes are outpaced by the relentless rise of commodity prices.

A perusal of the price monitoring by the PSA as of January 6, demonstrate clearly the exorbitant increase of the prices of basic commodities from their farmgate price to actual retail price.

In this regard, we submit this humble request and urgent plea for the following policies and issuances from His Excellency:

1) Extending Proclamation 1081 (issued in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses) indefinitely to freeze prices of basic commodities.

2) For Diskwento Caravans and more KADIWA stores to be rolled out to factory zones and depressed and low-income communities of the urban poor where majority of minimum wage earners and their families reside.       

3) For the DA, DTI, DILG, DOJ, NBI and PNP to go after and to actively prosecute price gouging middlemen, traders and retailers and to shut down hoarders. The ineptitude and lack of political will of both the DTI and the DA in enforcing the Proclamation must become a thing of the past.

4) For the DOLE and DTI to initiate direct agri-producer co-op linkages with workers coops, labor unions and employers to assure direct, affordable access of workers to food purchases without middlemen or traders.

5) For the DTI to prominently post physically suggested retail price (SRP) for basic staples in markets, groceries and supermarkets as well as all social media sites, providing instructions on how consumers complaints can be brought to the attention of DTI and LGUs.

6) For the DOLE to provide a wage subsidy to the workers from the DOLE TUPAD budget in the form of cash transfers or voucher system to assist them in their food purchases.

7) For DILG and DTI to closely monitor the shipment of supplemental basic commodities being brought in from Mindanao to Luzon to assist in bringing down food prices by preventing traders and middlemen from further coopting and capturing these resources.                                                   

TUCP National Executive Officials Michael C. Mendoza and Gerard R. Seno signed the letter.