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Bongbong Marcos promises no food imports to stabilize prices

/ 07:09 PM July 05, 2022
File photo of Bongbong Marcos speaking at his inauguration. On Tuesday he said he will not rely on the importation of food products just to stabilize prices.

FILE PHOTO: President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., during the inauguration ceremony at the National Museum in Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assured Filipinos Tuesday that the government would not import raw products just to stabilize prices in the local market.

In a press briefing after his first Cabinet meeting, Marcos Jr. was asked if importing goods like rice, corn, and livestock was meant to stabilize prices.

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In response, the Chief Executive admitted that while importation is a price stabilization measure, it is not the reason why they will import goods. However, Marcos Jr. said they really want to increase production for the next two quarters.

“Importation has been used as a price stabilization measure, I don’t think that is the primary reason for the importation that we’ll do as a matter of fact we are going to try, I think we will do it in the Department of Agriculture, to boost production of rice and corn in the coming two quarters, hanggang Pasko (up to Christmas),” Marcos told reporters in Malacañang.

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READ: Bongbong Marcos wants to ensure sufficient rice, corn, food for rest of 2022

“Again, because there are several reasons for that, the reasons because we prefer not to import – we prefer to import as little as possible so we should increase our own production of rice and corn,” he added.

Corn, he said, is so important now given that the country’s feed supply was cut short due to problems in importation. According to Marcos Jr, if the country increases its production of corn, then it may be enough to substitute the feeds needed by the country’s animal raisers.

“Corn especially became very important because the feed-weed that we were importing, na-cut off ang supply natin (our supply was cut-off) so we have to substitute it with corn. This season, the corn growers were able to come together and provide sufficient feed for the broiler production,” he said.

“But we still have to increase production of corn to ensure that [we have] supply because there’s corn for food, and there’s corn for feed. So if we are able to increase production sufficiently, then hopefully the importations [will cease],” he added.

Food importation has been generally frowned upon by many workers in the agricultural industry, as it allegedly forces local producers to match the low prices of the imported goods.

After the Rice Tariffication Law was implemented in 2018, the Department of Agriculture boasted that rice prices went down by as much as P7 per kilogram. But farmers have complained that they have little to almost no income after competing with imported grains.

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Marcos Jr., however, admitted that they are looking at importing materials to ensure that the country has sufficient supply amid concerns around the global market. Earlier in the briefing and several times in the past, Marcos Jr. has underscored a looming problem in the food supply, noting that other countries are preparing for a food shortage scenario.

If the Philippines lags in preparations, he said this would put the country in a disadvantageous position.

“It — we really do not want, it’s not really an import substitution measure, it is a strategic food supply measure. But of course, if nagkaka-import (there’s an import) substitution that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he noted.

READ: Food crisis, high costs to test Bongbong Marcos as agri chief

Food security is one of the areas that economic experts asked Marcos Jr. to focus on to ensure that the country can recover from the crises brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the newly-inaugurated top leader appears headed for a daunting task as the Philippine Statistics Authority noted that an increase in prices of food products and non-alcoholic beverages were the main drivers for the 6.1 percent June inflation rate.

The 6.1 percent inflation rate is the highest in three years, or since November 2018’s 6.1 percent and October 2018’s 6.9 percent.

Transportation costs, meanwhile, rose from 14.6 percent in May to 17.1 percent last month.

This June inflation rate was 0.7 percentage points higher than the 5.4 percent inflation the month before.

KGA/abc

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TAGS: Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Food, importation, Inflation, Price
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