MANILA, Philippines — Despite the continuous arrival of rice imports, prices of the Filipino’s main staple remain in an upward streak for eight months now, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported. In its regular update on palay, rice and corn prices, PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice rose 10 percent to P43.18 per kilogram at the start of this month versus a year ago while week-on-week prices inched up by a percentage. Its average retail price also increased to P45.71 per kg, up by nine percent year-on-year. The wholesale price of regular-milled rice was P40.08 per kg, 13 percent higher than the previous year. Its average retail price also increased 11 percent to P42.26 per kg. For palay, the average price went up to P22.11 per kg from P19.59 per kg last year. Week-on-week, prices were also up by almost two percent. State-run National Food Authority (NFA) earlier admitted that the imports still have no effect on the expected lowering of prices. NFA rice serves as a market stabilizer, minimizing the jacking up of prices in commercial rice. The Department of Agriculture is hopeful though that the prices of rice would stabilize by end-September with an expected decrease of up to P3 per kg. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol called on the government to make use of its power to arrest market manipulators amid the continued hike in prices of basic commodities. He maintained that the current problem is because of traders, middlemen and speculators who are riding on the tax reform issue to justify their market and price manipulation.