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Philippines' Duterte boosts imports to fight inflation

President imposes new measures as price hikes dent popularity and squeeze growth

Rising food prices could damage future growth and derail President Duterte's desired outcomes in the upcoming midterm elections. (Photo by Jilson Tiu)

MANILA -- Stubbornly high inflation has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order government agencies to step up food imports while enlisting police to crack down on price manipulators.

Rising commodity prices has emerged as a major political and economic issue in the country, threatening growth prospects and Duterte's support ratings ahead of next year's midterm elections. Damage to crops caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in mid-September, estimated at about 27 billion pesos ($497 million), will also likely push inflation further, said Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank, in a note last week.

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