Press Release
November 26, 2020

Soaring food prices to increase number of GNP—Gutom na Pilipino

The next Cabinet meeting should map out plans on how to tame what seems to be runaway prices of food, placing them beyond the reach of households made poorer by the pandemic-caused economic slowdown, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

"I think this should be on the top of the agenda in the next Cabinet meeting," Recto said.

The people who are having a hard time making ends meet are looking for answers on when these "food price shocks" would end, Recto said.

In the meantime, the Trade and Agriculture officials should share to the public what their plans are in bringing down prices of fish, vegetables and meat, Recto said.

Recto said government's own daily monitoring of prices of "agri-fishery commodities" in several markets in Metro Manila showed an alarming upswing tick.

The November 23 price of ampalaya is up by 194 percent compared to the month before, and sili by 200 percent. Cabbage and sayote, based on the said Philippine Statistics Authority report, doubled in price in 30 days.

Year-on-year, the price of pechay is up 167 percent; tomato, 133 percent; and red onion by 108 percent.

"Kung ang ampalaya ay P235 kada kilo at ang pechay ay P160, paano pa ito mabibili ng isang minimum wage worker?" Recto said.

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 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.

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.

Recto said while it was projected that the three typhoons which battered food-growing provinces in Luzon will result in a temporary uptick in food prices, "there is now worry if this will become the new normal."

He pressed the DA and the DTI 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, the fertile plains of Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, comprise one contiguous agricultural powerhouse.

The six provinces: 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."

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