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PIA Press Release

PGMA's dailogue with the bishops in the offing

Manila (10 July) -- Malacanang announced that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have a closed-door dialogue with the members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on government responses to oil and prime commodity price increases.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita made the announcement during his weekly press briefing with members of the Malacanang Press Corps.

Ermita said "it is very timely" that a meeting between the CBCP, in one hand, and the President and her economic team in the other hand, to discuss the bishops' concern on the possible spread of public unrest if the problems on oil price hikes and rising cost of living, among others, are not properly addressed.

"I was told that a National Rural Congress was held by the CBCP officials and their public sector partner at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati last week on the problem of poverty. This is an opportune time for the airing of what they have discussed in that conference before the President and her economic team, particularly on what government measures were made to address present economic problems," Ermita said.

Ermita said the President together with her economic managers will explain to the bishops the reasons behind the government's decision not to lift the 12% tax on oil importation; the giving of government subsidies on rice and fertilizers and other government measures to mitigate the impact of oil price hikes on the people.

He expressed the hope that after the dialogue, the Bishops would get a clearer picture of the present economic situation, and that they will also understand the way the government is addressing the problem of poverty.

Ermita also said that Trade Secretary Peter Favilla is scheduled to convene the National Price Monitoring Council tomorrow to discuss the problems of high prices of rice and other basic commodities.

The meeting is the response of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the President's directive last week for them to be on the ground and strictly monitor the trend of the prices of basic commodities. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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