Recto raises alarm on rising food prices, ‘Gutom na Pilipino’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday asked Cabinet officials to map out plans to solve the runaway prices of food that are further burdening households affected by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
“I think this should be on the top of the agenda in the next Cabinet meeting,” Recto said in a statement.
He also urged trade and agriculture officials to share plans on how to stem and ultimately lower the prices of fish, vegetables, and meat.
Recto cited the government’s daily monitoring of prices of “agri-fishery commodities” in Metro Manila that show alarming increases in prices.
As of November 23, the price of ampalaya is up by 194 percent while sili is up by 200 percent compared to the month before. Cabbage and sayote, based on the said Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report, doubled in price in 30 days.
The prices of pechay, tomato, and red onion more than doubled from the previous year as well, Recto noted.
“Kung ang ampalaya ay P235 kada kilo at ang pechay ay P160, paano pa ito mabibili ng isang minimum wage worker?” he said.
(How will a minimum wage worker buy ampalaya going for P235 per kilo and pechay at P160 per kilo?)
Based on the prevailing mandated daily floor wage of P537 in the National Capital Region, “a worker has to work almost half a day to buy a kilo of ampalaya,” Recto said.
That worker, according to the senator, will also have to work half a day to buy a kilo of galunggong, monitored by the PSA as being retailed at P250 per kilo during the week ending November 23.
Average prices of pork, specifically the “kasim” part, was tracked by the PSA at almost P300 per kilo, Recto said.
“Lahat ng gulay sa kantang ‘Bahay Kubo’ nagtaasan. Ang galunggong, ginto na ang presyo. And these are market prices. In retail outlets, prices are higher. At tiyak sasabihin ng mga tao na mas mataas ang bili nila kaysa sa kung ano ang naiulat ng pamahalaan,” Recto said.
(Every vegetable from the song Bahay Kubo increased. Galunggong might as well be gold. And these are market prices, in retail outlets prices are higher. And for sure people will say that the amount they paid is higher than what was reported by the government)
He said Filipino families on the average spend 43 percent of their income on food, “but the bottom 30 percent, or about 7.42 million families, allot almost 59 percent of their income on food.”
“So when food prices jump, they go on a forced diet, the magnitude of which is captured by periodic hunger surveys. Kung hindi bababa ang presyo ng pagkain, tataas ang ating GNP—or Gutom na Pilipino—rate,” he said.
While it was projected that the three typhoons that battered food-growing provinces in Luzon will result in a temporary uptick in food prices, Recto said “there is now worry if this will become the new normal.”
He then pressed the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Industry to provide “a food production, price, and supply outlook” for the next three months and what is being done to make them affordable.
Recto said a “quick government-aided turnaround plan” for Typhoon Ulysses-hit farms is needed as the affected areas, such as the fertile plains of Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, comprise one contiguous agricultural powerhouse.
The six provinces located in these regions, namely Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan, account for 38 percent of the country’s palay harvest, 37 percent of chicken production, almost one-fifth of swine production, and “one big vegetable bowl.” Miggy Dumlao, trainee
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