Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday warned that the continuing increase in food prices will increase the number of starving Filipinos.
He said the next Cabinet meeting should map out plans to tame what seemed to be runaway prices of food, placing them beyond the reach of households made poorer by the pandemic-caused economic slowdown.
Recto made his statement even as Senator Win Gatchalian called on the government to ensure interventions that would prevent a possible spike in teenage pregnancies in the storm-hit areas, a phenomenon observed in the aftermath of Typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.
Gatchalian cited a study by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines in 2017, which said when “Yolanda” hit Eastern Visayas, 23.5 percent of the region’s total population of teenage girls became pregnant.
The study also showed that 14.8 percent had another child the following year.
Recto says the people who are having a hard time making ends meet are looking for answers on the “food price shocks.”
In the meantime, he said, Trade and Agriculture officials should share with the public what their plans were in bringing down the prices of fish vegetables and meat.
Recto said the government’s own daily monitoring of prices of “agri-fishery commodities” in several markets in Metro Manila showed an alarming upswing.
The Nov.23 price of ampalaya was up by 194 percent compared to the month before, and sili by 200 percent. Cabbage and sayote, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority report, doubled in price in 30 days.
Year-on-year, the price of pechay was up 167 percent, tomato, 133 percent and red onion 108 percent.
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 would 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 Nov. 23. Macon Ramos-Araneta
The average prices of pork, specifically the “kasim” part, was tracked by the PSA at almost P300 per kilo, Recto said.
He says 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.
He said while it was projected that the three typhoons that battered the food-growing provinces in Luzon would 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 was being done to make them affordable. Macon Ramos-Araneta