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Philippine bishops urged to speak out against price hikes

Peasant leader voices alarm over cost of rice

Philippine bishops urged to speak out against price hikes

A rice vendor in Sultan Kudarat province. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)

D'Jay Lazaro, Manila

June 19, 2014

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The Peasant Movement of the Philippines called on the country's Catholic bishops on Thursday to speak out against rising basic commodity prices and on what the group described as the government’s "anti-poor food policy".

The move follows another jump in the price of rice this week, the third in less than a year.

"We call on the Catholic Church hierarchy to speak up," Rafael Mariano, chairman of the peasant organization, said in a statement.

Senior churchmen have so far kept silent over price hikes that have seen the cost of living for the poor rocket over the last year

Mariano said peasants, workers, fishermen, and urban poor are the hardest hit by spikes in food prices in recent months due to the government importing rice, its liberal trade policy, and poor rice farmer subsidies.

The price of rice rose from 32 pesos per kg to 40 pesos or about a dollar per kg between July and September last year, Mariano said.

This week’s price increase now has rice at more than 42 pesos per kg.

The peasant leader said it is time for the bishops "to side with the farmers and the Filipino poor".

Retail prices on basic commodities, including rice and milk, are still increasing and are expected to continue to rise over the coming months, he added.

The government, however, says rice prices would remain at their current levels until rice imports arrive within the next two months.

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